Learn about labour trafficking, what Ontario is doing to help keep work fair and safe, and find helpful resources.
On this page Skip this page navigation
Labour trafficking is a form of human trafficking that involves recruiting, moving or holding victims to coerce them into doing any kind of work.
Terms like “forced labour” and “servitude” are sometimes used when talking about labour trafficking.
Labour trafficking may occur when victims are:
- deceived or coerced into a working situation
- exploited for their labour value through unsafe work
- made to work excessive hours
- are underpaid or not paid
- forced to give a portion of their earnings to the trafficker
- kept in a precarious situation through a variety of controls, such as:
- debt bondage (working to pay off a large unexpected and illegal debt that often can never be repaid)
- threats against them or others
- loss of work permit
- threat of losing immigration status or deportation
- holding of the employee’s passports, travel or identity documents
To retain control of their victims, labour traffickers will often:
- take away passports, travel or identity documents or other personal items
- control living arrangements, social activities and personal interactions
- transfer victims to various work locations to impede their ability to seek help or establish contacts
Newcomers and persons in other countries seeking work in Canada may be recruited by someone from their home country or within Canada who falsely promise a job or wage. The victim may be unaware of their rights in Ontario, how to get help, and fear reporting to police or labour authorities.
Get help using Ontario’s labour laws
In an emergency, always call 911.
Ontario’s labour laws protect employees and workers in the province. These protections apply to workers regardless of:
- their immigration status, work permits and legal entitlement to work in Canada
- whether the work was performed “under the table”
Learn about your rights under:
- the Employment Standards Act, which includes rules about minimum wage, hours of work limits and other employment standards
- the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, which includes recruiter and employer obligations towards workers hired through an immigration or foreign temporary employee program
- the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), which includes rules about protecting worker health and safety
Please note, some industries have special rules for employment standards. For more information please visit our Guide to special rules and exemptions.
File a claim if your employment rights have been violated
If you believe your employment standard rights have been violated, you can file a claim within a certain time limit.
If you aren’t sure what the rules are, you can call the Employment Standards Information Centre and get information in many languages:
File a complaint about health and safety in your workplace
If you believe conditions in a workplace are unsafe, or if you or someone else is experiencing harassment or violence on the job, you may file a complaint online or by phone to the Health and Safety Contact Centre:
Get help for victims of labour trafficking
If you or someone you know may be subject to labour trafficking, you can share tips and get help by contacting the ministry’s Divisional Intelligence Unit. Contact us by:
- email at email@example.com
- an anonymous webform
- phone to the Health and Safety Contact Centre:
1-877-202-0008( TTY: 1-855-653-9260)
- by mail:
Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development
14th floor, 400 University Ave, Toronto, ON M7A 1T7
Attn: Divisional Intelligence Unit
Learn more about the Divisional Intelligence Unit and the ministry’s efforts to combat labour trafficking.
What to expect when you contact the ministry
You can request anonymity when contacting the ministry. When calling, telephone advisors will ask you to explain your situation and then assign an officer or inspector to follow up on the matter.
People at risk of labour trafficking
People who are most at risk of labour trafficking include:
- migrant workers
- newcomers to Canada
- Canadian citizens or permanent residents on social assistance
- people with uncertain immigration status
- people who are homeless
- people who do not speak English or French
- anyone working without authorization in the underground economy
Labour trafficking in different sectors
Labour trafficking can occur in any industry and look different in each case. Some industries where labour trafficking takes place more often include:
- domestic work
Possible signs of labour trafficking
Some possible signs of labour trafficking may include:
- a job offer that seems too good to be true
- an employer that threatens to deport you or report your immigration status to police
- an employer that withholds personal identification
- an employer that threatens you or your family if you don’t work long hours and/or accept a lower wage
- a job that relocates you with few details and no payment up front
- a job where you are forced to live and/or work in unhealthy and unsafe conditions
If one or more of these apply to your job or employer, you or someone you know may be at risk of being trafficked.
How we combat labour trafficking
The ministry works hard to:
- help protect workers and settle workplace disputes
- support skilled trades, apprenticeships and employment services
- attract highly-skilled newcomers
- help people get settled in Ontario
Divisional Intelligence Unit
The Divisional Intelligence Unit (DIU) is a dedicated team in the ministry that was created to support efforts against provincial labour trafficking. This team focuses on detecting and investigating exploitative labour practices and labour trafficking activity.
The DIU works closely with:
- legal clinics, advocacy groups, industry associations, consulates and agencies that support workers and newcomers
- police, other law enforcement agencies and the broader regulatory community on matters related to labour exploitation and trafficking
Ontario's Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy
The five-year Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy (2020–2025) focuses on:
- raising awareness
- protecting victims
- intervening early
- supporting survivors
- holding offenders accountable
Through this strategy, we support:
- prevention initiatives
- community programs and services for victims and survivors
- measures to help bring traffickers to justice
Provincial legislation that supports the fight against human trafficking in Ontario includes:
Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline
- a victim seeking help
- someone with a tip to report a potential case
- a member of the public wanting to learn more about human trafficking
You can also find services across Canada using the hotline’s National Referral Directory.