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Manitoba Government News Release–The Manitoba government is providing more than $900,000 for several initiatives to combat child sexual exploitation, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced today at the start of Stop Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week.

“The safety and security of children is a priority for our government, and we are committed to enhancing supports to ensure the best possible outcomes for vulnerable youth, including those at risk of sexual exploitation,” said Squires, who today proclaimed March 7 to 13 as Stop Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week in Manitoba. “The targeted investments I am announcing today support programs and organizations that share our goal of keeping kids safe, and I am pleased to support this critical work.”

Details of the investments include:

• Up to $200,000 to develop a provincial training and awareness campaign for hotel staff in partnership with the Manitoba Hotel Association, to ensure this workforce is equipped with knowledge and training to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. This initiative will also bolster education and awareness to the public through a development of resources that will inform Manitobans on the duty to report.
• Up to $80,000 to New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families to update the training it provides to service providers who work with sexually exploited youth, so it reflects emerging best practices and enhances supports. The training will be provided to group care staff, child welfare workers and community partner organizations.
• A total of $424,000 in new annual funding to the Toba Centre for Children and Youth to support the development of a new model of community-based supports for abused children, in consultation with community stakeholders. The funding will also support Toba’s transition to a full child advocacy centre. Building on previous support for the centre, this brings the total provincial investment to $763,000 annually.
• A total of more than $200,000 for two-year contracts with three organizations to provide abuse investigation training and online standards training. These contracts will be awarded to the Forensic Practice, the Whole Truth and Technology for Learning Group.

“Ending sexual exploitation is the responsibility of everyone in our community. Hotels are pleased to step up and do our part through the education and training program for hotel staff,” said Scott Jocelyn, president and CEO, Manitoba Hotel Association. “We applaud Minister Squires for this initiative and we look forward to working with the officials in her department to design this program.”

The minister noted these investments support the goals of Tracia’s Trust, Manitoba’s strategy to prevent sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, and are based on key priorities from research on sexually exploited children and youth.

Every year, the Manitoba government invests approximately $16 million in initiatives through Tracia’s Trust, such as:

• operation of Winnipeg StreetReach and oversight of ongoing work in Thompson through a collaborative outreach approach that helps identify children and youth at risk of victimization in the sex trade, and returns them to a place of safety;
• a culturally based peer mentorship program called Restoring the Sacred, for Indigenous youth aged 14 to 21 who are relocating to Winnipeg to continue their education;
• educational opportunities for people with lived experience in sexual exploitation to achieve a post-secondary certificate or diploma in child and youth care; and
• regional teams throughout Manitoba to increase public awareness on the issue of sexual exploitation.

Manitoba continues to invest in resources to end child sexual exploitation in partnership with the Government of Canada. These include mental health and addiction services to build awareness and provide specialized care to vulnerable youth, with emphasis on strengthening connections with community and culture, such as:

• enhancement and expansion of the StreetReach program;
• support for a land-based healing and Indigenous teaching initiative that creates a cultural connection for at-risk youth through Clan Mothers; and
• ongoing support for Neecheewam’s Eagle Embracing You program, an innovative approach that combines western and Indigenous knowledge.

For more information on how the Manitoba government works with a broad range of partners to address sexual exploitation and to provide support to those at risk, visit www.gov.mb.ca/fs/traciastrust/index.html.