Stay Awake Campaign 2022 | Labour Trafficking Part 1

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Today we will be exploring the intersectionality of precarious migrant youth and Labour Trafficking.

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What is Labour Trafficking?

Labour trafficking is when someone earns a profit from exploiting and taking advantage of someone else by either using threats, fraud, coercion, and or/deception. It involves recruiting, moving, or holding victims to coerce them into doing any kind of work.

The FCJ Refugee Centre, Migrant Workers Mobile Program serve people who are in situations of labour trafficking. In working with survivors, it has been observed that labor trafficking may intersect with other forms of trafficking. Overall, traffickers may use forceful means, but often they will seek to establish trust with their victims first. Once they gain control, they often find ways to manipulate and apply pressure on victims to cooperate using luring, grooming, and exploitation tactics. While these tactics intersect with other forms of trafficking, it can present itself differently in labour trafficking.

The luring, grooming, and exploitation tactics traffickers use on precarious migrant youth

Luring: Precarious migrant youth are found to have many unmet needs while settling in Canada. As mentioned in our previous post, some of these youth lack access to secure and safe employment and housing. Traffickers that are masqueraded as family, friends or friends of family often look for these unmet needs in a person’s life and try to fill them. Migrant youth who are in situations of poverty, alone and isolated in Canada may feel like they have no other choice but to rely on their social connections to find housing and employment. The luring process begins as traffickers appear to fill these voids by providing and connecting these youth to housing and employment while filling their unmet needs.

Grooming: Traffickers may make false promises that respond to their target needs. Many precarious migrant youth are already isolated and alone in Canada. Traffickers take advantage of this by making false promises that provides a false sense of security. This includes:

  • Promising to provide valid immigration documents such as work permits, citizenship, sponsorship, or study permit
  • Promising family reunification
  • Promising a secure job with greater pay
  • Promising to provide food and shelter (which ultimately leads to some sort of debt bondage)

Traffickers may force or trap youth into exploitive labour situations through violence and intimidation. Oftentimes, traffickers maintain control by holding onto passports and identity documents to keep victims from leaving. Traffickers claim that the victim must repay money that was spent on various necessities whether it be clothes, transportation, household items, beds and food. Those who have precarious status are often forced to work out of threats of denunciation to immigration authorities.

Exploitation: Traffickers insert themselves into the centre of victims’ lives and take full control. Not only do traffickers have control of their housing situation but through threats and coercion, traffickers have control over their livelihood. Oftentimes, victims are labour exploited by being forced to work long hours under unsafe and. Very poor working conditions for little or no money. While labour exploitation is something that many people go through, precarious migrant youth are especially targeted due to:

  • Uncertain immigration status
  • Not having possession of their travel documents or identification.
  • Recruitment debts or living in poverty
  • Isolation due to language barriers, and not being able to speak English
  • A lack of understanding of their rights in Canada or how to get assistance.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be a victim of forced labour or sex please contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010.