Saanich targets education around sex industry

Councillor says human trafficking not just a northern problem

Though the topic is rarely spoken of in a local context, Saanich isn’t immune to human trafficking, says Coun. Fred Haynes.

In June, Haynes began working with Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie to have Saanich endorse an upcoming resolution by the North Central Local Government Association about human trafficking on the September agenda of the Union of B.C. Municipalities. The resolution encourages municipalities to work with the RCMP and local police in B.C. to combat human trafficking.

Since it came up, three Saanich families came to Haynes to say they appreciate the positive steps in this area, he said.

“They’ve had impacts in their families, we’re not immune to it here in Saanich,” Haynes said. “Saanich is playing a bigger game now, we’re championing issues that happen across the province.”

Downie spoke to council and staff on Monday, spurring Saanich to take a lead in supporting the resolution at UBCM.

“There are families in Saanich, and maybe some people in this room, who don’t believe this is an issue that can happen [here], but it can,” Downie said.

“It’s a national issue, a provincial issue, and my personal belief is if there’s anything we can do to educate at a municipal level, we should do that.”

Locally, the goal is to build a better awareness with families and youth about the dangers of the sex industry at all levels, Downie added.

“There are people in the sex industry who don’t know they have a choice, they don’t know there is help. Some think they’re going to get arrested if they ask for help, and that’s just not true.”

The resolution at UBCM asks to implement the recommendations from two reports, one, the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada, or, the ‘NO MORE’ Ending Sex-Trafficking In Canada, as well as B.C.’s Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.

“People from the NCLGA are delighted with Saanich,” said Haynes, who received emails from Quesnel and Dawson Creek councillors thanking him for bringing the issue before Saanich council.

The 2015 UBCM Convention will be held Sept. 21-25 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.