MPP Jeff Yurek says many unaware of human-trafficking realities

By Heather Rivers,

Youth and young women under 18, who are survivors of human trafficking need a licensed, specialized, residential treatment facility to regain their lives, says one local expert.

Kelly Franklin, executive director of Farmtown Canada, said that was an outcome of a meeting about the issue held last week at her Aylmer horse therapy facility.

Farmtown Canada is a charitable organization that provides programs to disadvantaged girls, teen girls and young women through their horses that heal program.

During the last five years Farmtown has transitioned into the area of anti-human trafficking and sexual violence, using therapy horses to treat PTSD and trauma.

The meeting, which took following a two-day symposium in London about trafficked victims, drew together human trafficking survivors, police, politicians and representatives from victim services.

Franklin said there is a huge gap in services for human trafficking victims in an already overtaxed system.

“There is nowhere for them to go that is going to give them traffick-trauma informed care,” she said. “Working with a girl who has been trafficked is so specific and so fragile. There needs to be specific things available for these girls in order to look a better success rate.”

Kawartha Lakes MPP Laurie Scott, who attended the meeting, has pledged to present their plea to Queen’s Park.

Franklin said while she hopes Farmtown plays a major role as a possible pilot project for trafficked survivors due to their high level of experience with trafficking victims.

“We can’t do things the wrong way,” she said. “We need to legislate it the right way and then we need to fund it.”

Elgin MPP Jeff Yurek, who attended the meeting, said many are unaware of how young an age women are being trafficked and what they have to endure.

Sixty-six per cent of those trafficked are under the age of 19, with a median age of 13.

“Human trafficking is a growing problem in our province and we need to understand the seriousness of the problem and we need to act,” Yurek said. “Going forward we need to ensure money is flowing to agencies that support them, so that youth under the age of 18 have services and supports available to them.”

In September the province announced that funding of $18.6 million was earmarked to help survivors of human trafficking heal and rebuild their lives.

Yurek said he is probing whether the money has begun to flow and whether any was Elgin County was allotted any.