Combating Human Trafficking: A Call to Action for the Meetings Industry in Canada

By: Ruth Abrahamson

CEO – Base Consulting and Management Inc. | Advisory Council Member – MPAHT


When Sandy Biback first introduced the idea of mobilizing the meetings industry in Canada to combat human trafficking, it was a testament to her vision and resolve in the face of a daunting challenge. Today, the meetings industry stands at a unique intersection of opportunity and obligation to address this pervasive issue. Human trafficking, a crime that thrives in the shadows, finds its way into various sectors, including the hospitality and events industries. It is a problem that demands our attention, actions, and unwavering commitment to eradication.

The Scope of Human Trafficking in Canada

Statistics reveal a grim reality: human trafficking is not a distant problem but a present and urgent crisis within Canadian borders. Recent data indicates that 96% of trafficking victims in Canada are female, with 71% under the age of 25, and a staggering 93% of sex trafficking victims in Canada are Canadian citizens (Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline). In the province of Nova Scotia, there has been the highest rate of police-reported human trafficking between 2012 and 2022 (CBC News), highlighting the pervasive nature of this crime.

Human Trafficking and the Meetings Industry

The meetings industry is not immune to the influence of human trafficking. Large industry conferences and trade shows have been linked to increased trafficking activity (Skift Meetings). It is crucial for event professionals to recognize their potential role in both combating and inadvertently facilitating this crime. Education and awareness are the first steps toward prevention, and organizations like Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT) have committed to raising awareness and creating educational resources (MPAHT).

Best Practices for Combating Human Trafficking

For the meetings industry to effectively fight human trafficking, it must adopt and implement best practices. This includes raising awareness of the issue, training staff to recognize and respond to potential trafficking situations, and working with hotels and venues that have anti-trafficking policies in place. The initial measure a planner can undertake is to enhance knowledge of the matter. Incorporating a query regarding anti-trafficking protocols within the Request for Proposal (RFP) is just an initial step.

The Impact of Human Trafficking on the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry, closely linked with the meetings sector, faces significant risks associated with human trafficking. Traffickers often take advantage of the privacy and anonymity accessible through this industry, which can result in legal, operational, and reputational risks for businesses (EHL Hospitality Insights).


As we support the formation of a not-for-profit association and other initiatives like MPAHT, we recognize the critical role of education in raising awareness about human trafficking. By supporting hotels and venues with anti-trafficking policies and attending educational sessions, we can take incremental but impactful steps toward a solution. The meetings industry in Canada has the potential to be a force for change, disrupting the cycle of exploitation and making a difference in the lives of those affected by human trafficking. Let us be inspired by Sandy’s determination and continue to build upon the foundations laid to fight this heinous crime within our sector.

Scroll to Top