The Manitoba government has released a research report on sexual exploitation that will guide the Tracia’s Trust strategy to help vulnerable young Manitobans, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today. “It is horrific to read that children in Manitoba are being violently victimized and lured into the sex trade for reasons such as money, food, shelter or drugs,” said Stefanson. “Our sexual exploitation unit hears about hundreds of trafficking and exploitation cases every year. Even more shocking, a majority of cases are invisible, behind closed doors or online, so a large number of these hidden crimes go unreported.”

The province launched its sexual exploitation strategy in 2002 and renamed it in 2008 to Tracia’s Trust in memory of Tracia Owen, a 14-year-old who was sexually exploited and died by suicide in 2005. Annually, the strategy provides approximately $10 million to many non-governmental organizations and interdepartmental initiatives related to prevention, intervention and service co-ordination, along with 12 regional teams that provide education, training and awareness.

To guide the strategy forward, the province launched its first research project in 2016 and has produced a report, Collaboration and Best Practices on Ending Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking in Manitoba. It is based on qualitative and quantitative analysis, relevant case studies from 2011 to 2016 and input from focus groups and consultation with 54 organizations, stakeholders, front-line service providers, community members, elders, law enforcement and exploited Manitobans.

The report recommendations include:
• a robust strategy to address online exploitation and trafficking,
• additional supports for adults who aged out of the child welfare system and are at risk of exploitation,
• a substance abuse treatment model with emphasis on methamphetamine,
• a reform of specialized placements and resources to better support exploited youth by addressing factors such as addictions and mental health, and
• ongoing collaboration with urban and rural stakeholders about Tracia’s Trust

To read the full report and backgrounder click here.