NAIRN CENTRE -- Manitoulin Northshore Victim Services is hoping to send a message with a new sign that has been put up along Highway 17, west of Sudbury.

In big, bold letters it says: buying sex is a crime.

The billboard is targeting a specific audience, the 'johns', which is a term used to describe individuals who pay for or trade something of value for sexual acts.

"We felt very strongly that we needed to target the male demand for buying sex because we know without the demand there wouldn’t be a supply," said Natasha Falle, of Manitoulin Northshore Victim Services.

Falle says it's hard for people to believe that human trafficking is happening in our local communities.

"The majority of trafficking that happens to people who are born and raised right here in Canada, the average age is 14-years-old. I’m actually a trafficking survivor myself and my father was a police officer, so for those who say this could never happen to my child, you know life can throw us a curve ball anytime,” said Falle.

"We have seen cases in our communities. We have charged people with these offences and prosecuted and we take them very seriously. There are no breaks. We will do what we have to do and that's why we're here today. We're here to show our force, our community togetherness, and we will hold people accountable who decided to do these things,” said Ontario Provincial Police Constable Marie Ford.

The billboard is set to be up for a year, however Falle says she hopes it becomes a permanent fixture along the busy stretch of highway.

She says other organizations have expressed interest in bringing similar signs to their own communities, to reinforce the message that buying sex is a crime.