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Quebec presents plan to fight sexual exploitation of minors – Montreal

Exactly a year after Quebec’s commission on sexual exploitation of minors presented its recommendations, the province’s public security minister, Geneviève Guilbault, says she is moving to implement most of them.


On Friday, she presented her plan’s 37 measures.

The five-point plan focuses on research, education, prevention, repression and helping victims rebuild their lives.

Guilbault says the plan responds to most of the recommendations made by the commission last year.

“There is still work to do because it is never over, unfortunately,” Guilbault said.

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A multi-party committee studied the issue for about a year and a half.

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It heard from a variety of experts and concluded that the fight against sexual exploitation of minors must become a priority in Quebec.

So far, the ministry has announced a $100 million investment to police forces around the province.

In October, another $19 million was announced for a new program that aims to fight more effectively and sustainably against sexual exploitation.

A portion of that money ($6 million) will also go to organizations working to support victims.

“I am sure this will make a difference in the lives of a lot of young people,” Guilbault said of the plan.

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On Friday, two more investments were announced: $2 million for university research on the issue and $2.9 million for awareness campaigns.

Those campaigns are set to be deployed starting in the winter of 2022.

McGill U. Ingram School of Nursing professor Françoise Filion, who teaches community health nursing, would like to see more training for health care professionals, so they have the necessary tools to identify people in situations of sexual exploitation.

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“Sometimes we don’t even know what to do for help. Is it to refer them to police, to the police officers? It’s really hard to get some type of a protocol,” Filion told Global News.

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One of the members of the multi-party committee, Liberal MNA Christine St-Pierre, said she wishes the plan went further in terms of financing organizations that work with victims.

“They need more support,” St-Pierre said.

St-Pierre says she would also like to see event organizers and hotel associations in Montreal, where the problem is more prevalent, to take on more responsibility in the fight against sexual exploitation.

“We attract people, we attract tourism and we have to make sure that people who come in Montreal know that in Canada, this is a criminal offence,” she said.

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Martin Roy, president of the Festivals and Major Events whose members include the Just For Laughs Festival and the Jazz Festival, said they are ready to play a part in the fight.

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“If it’s about signage or whatever that we can do in our festivals, we will be glad to do it and let the festival goers know that we won’t tolerate sexual exploitation,” Roy said.

Guilbault says she wants the message in Quebec to be “on est closed for that kind of business, t’sais.”

The plan will be implemented over the next five years with a total investment of $150 million.

— with files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and Annabelle Olivier 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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