WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government is investing $900,000 in a number of initiatives to help stop child sexual exploitation.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires made the announcement in a news release on Tuesday, proclaiming that March 7 to 13 is 'Stop Child Exploitation Awareness Week' in Manitoba.

“The safety and security of children is a priority for our government, and we are committed to enhancing supports to ensure the best possible outcomes for vulnerable youth, including those at risk of sexual exploitation,” Squires said.

“The targeted investments I am announcing today support programs and organizations that share our goal of keeping kids safe, and I am pleased to support this critical work.”

The $900,000 will be allotted to different programs and organizations, including:

Up to $200,000 to create a provincial training awareness campaign for hotel staff to make sure they have the knowledge and training to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. This campaign will be in partnership with the Manitoba Hotel Association;

Up to $80,000 for New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults, and Families to update its training for service providers who work with sexually exploited youth;

$424,000 in new annual funding for the Toba Centre for Children and Youth to support the development of a new model of community-based supports for children who have experienced abuse. This funding will also support its transition to a full child advocacy centre; and

More than $200,000 for two-year contracts with three organizations to provide abuse investigation and online standards training.

Squires added that these investments support the goals of Tracia’s Trust, which is the province’s strategy to prevent sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

Scott Jocelyn, president and CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association, said hotels are pleased to do their part through an education and training program for staff.

“Ending sexual exploitation is the responsibility of everyone in our community,” he said.