What is Labour Trafficking?
Labour trafficking, also known as ‘forced labour,’ is the control and exploitation of a person for their labour or service, usually through force, threats and/or deception. Situations of labour exploitation often include very poor and, unsafe working conditions, abuse, extremely long hours and unfair or non-existent wages. Anyone can fall victim to labour trafficking, with the most at-risk groups being:
- Foreign nationals, who may have:
- Precarious immigration status
- Recruitment debts or are living in poverty
- Experienced isolation through language barriers
- A lack of awareness about their rights in Canada
- Those working in the industries of:
- Agriculture & farming (seasonal workers, farm hands)
- Domestic service (child/elder care and home housekeeping services)
- Hospitality (hotel housekeeping services, restaurant kitchen work)
- Construction, and resource extraction (e.g. mining, timber, etc.)
- Services such as nail salons and commercial cleaning businesses
- People with vulnerabilities related to:
- Precarious housing or homelessness
- Substance abuse
- Physical or learning disability
- Mental health issues
The Phases of Labour Trafficking
Labour trafficked persons are often promised good jobs, education or travel opportunities in exchange for work in Canada. However, when they arrive they are forced to work under unacceptable or unsafe working conditions for extremely long hours and little to no pay. Labourers are often forced to pay large, illegal recruitment fees that are separate from the immigration service fee that they can legally be charged.
Control & Exploitation
Traffickers exert complete control over their victims through abuse, threats, debt bondage, document and money confiscations. Victims are often isolated due to language barriers, no longer being in possession of identification/ government documents, and lack of awareness of their rights in Canada. Traffickers may lie and threaten deportation if the victim disobeys and/or threatens to harm their families.
Why is this important?
By understanding the definition and identifying the risks and phases of labour trafficking, you are one step closer to keeping your community and vulnerable people safe from traffickers. If you suspect someone in your community may be a victim of labour trafficking, please call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.