VANCOUVER - The B.C. office devoted to fighting human trafficking has been drastically reduced, prompting outcry from victims' advocates who fear more people will suffer while criminals will benefit.
The province is shuttering the Victoria wing of the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons, slashing hundreds of thousands from its budget, eliminating its top official and reducing full-time staff to two people.
Benjamin Perrin, a law professor at the University of British Columbia who is an expert on human trafficking, says he was informed last week of the cuts by then-executive director Robin Pike.
Perrin says he confirmed today with the Ministry of Public Safety that the remaining budget is only $300,000, which he describes as hardly more than the dollar value of a single human trafficking victim to the trafficker.
The ministry notes online that Canada is both a transit and destination point for the crime, and Vancouver is considered a port of "major concern" by the U.S. State Department.
In May, a West Vancouver woman was charged with human trafficking on allegations she lured an African woman to Canada and then forced her to work up to 18 hours a day as a domestic servant.