Rodrigo Diaz M.

Ontario has taken a step forward in the fight against human trafficking by introducing a bill that would give police more power to quickly access information in suspected cases.

The bill, if passed, would require hotels and similar businesses to maintain a list of guest information that agents could request if they believe it can help locate, identify or protect an alleged victim.

A request by law enforcement to see guest information would not require an order from a judge if an agent believes that a victim could be harmed or if the information could be destroyed before an order is issued.

Businesses or guests who violate the rules or make false statements could be fined up to $ 5,000.

The bill would also require companies that sell adult services to post their contact information and respond to law enforcement within a specified time frame.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his province has become a “hub” for human trafficking and that legislation is needed.

“We are not going to allow this to continue here in Ontario,” he said.

The legislation would also increase penalties for those implicated in human trafficking cases who interfere with a child in protective custody, with possible fines of up to $ 50,000 or two years in jail.

The Ontario government would have to review its anti-trafficking strategy every five years under the new legislation, and that would include consultations with the public, victims and other stakeholders.

A Statistics Canada report released last year found that Ontario accounted for 68% of all human trafficking incidents reported by police between 2009 and 2018.

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