Girl leaning against window, silhouetted against the city, reflecting on her sex trafficking past.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is a growing crime in Canada. It is often under-reported, under-estimated and largely misunderstood.1

Essentially, sex trafficking is exploiting someone through force, fraud or coercion for another person's financial gain. As a multi-billion dollar industry, it is more lucrative than guns or drugs: traffickers can make over $280,000 per year by controlling one victim.2

This crime is affecting the lives of countless young women and girls in Canada.

Trafficking happens in our communities

In Canada over 90% of sex trafficking victims come from Canada.3

90% of victims are female,4 but young men are targeted as well.

17 the average age of victims is 17, but they can be as young as 13, and as young as 8 for Indigenous girls.5

Trafficking can happen to anyone

Silhouette of young person looking out the window

Sex trafficking can happen to any young person, regardless of age, culture, income, orientation, gender or neighbourhood.6 Traffickers find their young victims online, at schools, malls, parties, libraries and bus stops.

Studies have shown that although traffickers recruit from all areas and backgrounds, marginalized, lower-income young people are often more at risk.7

Homeless youth are among the most vulnerable. Over 30 per cent8 of female youth who stay at Covenant House have been involved in some form of the sex industry, including sex for food. While only some of these youth are trafficking victims, this number shows desperation and a drive for survival. Traffickers search this out.

To learn more about sex trafficking, visit Traffick Stop, our online resource to educate and raise awareness of sex trafficking in our communities.

Vulnerable victims, strong survivors

What many trafficking victims have in common is low self-esteem and other concerns that make them vulnerable. Traffickers promise their victims love, security, acceptance, money, shelter and food.

Thirty per cent of trafficking victims are recruited by males they consider to be their boyfriends and 25 per cent are recruited through friends, often victims themselves.9

Raised hands catching sun on sunset sky, signs of human trafficking

Every young person has the right to be safe from trafficking. With your help, they can be.

Please note: all statistics in this section represent an overview of sex trafficking at the national level. Statistics about the youth who stay at Covenant House Toronto may differ due to sample size and demographics.
  1. United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. (n.d.). Human rights and trafficking in persons. Retrieved from
  2. CISC. (2008). Strategic Intelligence Brief: Organized Crime and Domestic Trafficking in Persons in Canada (p. 5, Rep.).
  3. Canadian Women's Foundation. (2014). Fact Sheet: Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. Retrieved from
  4. Ibrahim, D. (2018). Trafficking in persons in Canada, 2016. Statistics Canada.
  5. Gabriele, F., et al. (2014). The Incidence of Human Trafficking in Ontario, Ontario Coalition Research Initiative
  6. Murphy, L. T. (2016). Labor and Sex Trafficking Among Homeless Youth: A Ten-City Study Executive Summary (p. 3, Rep.). Loyola University New Orleans.
  7. Barrett, N.A. (2010). An exploration of promising practices in response to human trafficking in Canada. Retrieved from
  8. Murphy, L. T. (2016). Labor and Sex Trafficking Among Homeless Youth: A Ten-City Study Executive Summary. Loyola University New Orleans.
  9. Canadian Women’s Foundation. (2014). “No More”: Ending Sex Trafficking in Canada, Report of the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. Retrieved from