In 2014, the Canadian parliament, then dominated by the country's Conservative Party, passed Bill C-36, which for the first time made paying for sex a crime. The new law also outlawed receiving a material benefit from the sale of sex, as well as the
advertising of sexual service.
The bill was misleadingly titled the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, but the actual aim of the legislation was to serve as a first step toward stamping out sex work altogether in Canada.
When the 'Liberal' Party won a majority shortly after the bill took effect, the new government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to review the effects of the law after five years.
With 2019 coming to a close, that five-year wait is also
up, and Canadian sex worker rights activists say that the 'Liberal' government has done nothing to evaluate or reform the law -- which they say has put sex workers' lives at risk , and been a gift to sexual predators.
According to a VICE report on the
law's effects, Canadian sex workers now can't work in brothels, can't hire security and can't properly screen clients, because those clients generally will not give their true identities for fear of arrest.
A spokesperson for Canada's Ministry of
Justice said only that the law mandates that a committee study the effects of Bill C-36, and that committee is now being formed.
The Canadian government's nasty prostitution bill passed in the House of Commons Monday night by a 156-124 vote.
Injustice Minister Peter MacKay was behind the new legislation, Bill C-36, and took the approach that it would criminalize the purchase of
sex, but not its sale.
MacKay called his legislation a made in Canada approach and claimed that it was the best way to eliminate prostitution altogether. By allowing prostitutes to sell sexual services without fear of criminalization, the
law won't prevent them from implementing safety measures such as bodyguards, MacKay has said.
Under the previous law, prostitutes were effectively prohibited from hiring bodyguards because nobody was allowed to live off the avails of
Canada's government is fast-tracking a nasty Bill C-36 to criminalise people who buy sex. Here's a glance at what the government is proposing, and what critics say about the changes.
1. Going after the buyers
The bill criminalizes
the buying of sex -- or obtain[ing] for consideration... the sexual services of a person. The penalties include jail time -- up to five years in some cases -- and minimum cash fines that go up after a first offence.
2. What's a sexual
The bill doesn't say, meaning it would likely be up to a court to decide where the line was drawn. A government legal brief, submitted to the committee as it considered the bill, says the courts have found lap-dancing and
masturbation in a massage parlour? count as a sexual service or prostitution, but not stripping or the production of pornography.
3. What about sex workers?
They also face penalties under the bill, though the government says
it is largely trying to go after the buyers of sex. Under the bill, it would be illegal for a sex worker to discuss the sale of sex in certain areas -- a government amendment Tuesday appears set to reduce what areas would be protected -- and it would
also be illegal for a person to get a material benefit from the sale of sexual services by anyone other than themselves. Some critics have warned that latter clause could, for instance, prevent sex workers from working together, which some do to
4. What about those who work with sex workers?
Anyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from the sale of a sexual service,
faces up to 10 years in prison. This excludes those who have a legitimate living arrangement with a sex worker, those who receives the benefit as a result of a legal or moral obligation of the sex worker, those who sell the sex worker a
service or good on the same terms to the general public, and those who offer a private service to sex workers but do so for a fee proportionate to the service and so long as they do not counsel or encourage sex work.
sex workers advertise their services?
This is a key plank of the bill, which makes it a crime to knowingly advertise an offer to provide sexual services for consideration, or money. This could potentially include newspapers, such as
weekly publications that include personal ads from sex workers, or websites that publish similar ads. Justice Minister Peter MacKay appears to believe the ban could go after such publications. It affects all forms of advertising, including online. And
anything that enables or furthers what we think is an inherently dangerous practice of prostitution will be subject to prosecution, but the courts will determine what fits that definition, he told reporters after speaking to the committee July 7.
This has been welcomed by some, including Janine Benedet, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia who supports the bill overall, though she called for some changes. I didn't actually expect to see this advertising provision in
this bill but I would say it's actually a really important step, to say that kind of profiteering needs to stop, she said. ]
6. Can anyone still advertise the sale of sex?
Yes -- sex workers themselves. The bill includes an
exemption that says no one will be prosecuted for an advertisement of their own sexual services, though platforms that actually knowingly run the ads may face prosecution.
10. What's the status of the bill?
current laws, struck down by the Court, officially expire in December, and the government has pledged to pass Bill C-36 by then.
Buying sex or trying to sell it in public areas where there are people under 18 can be found illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison under a sweeping new anti-prostitution law introduced in Canada's parliament. The government claims that the
new law promotes human dignity and equality, and protects vulnerable people.
A new offence of advertising sexual services would also be created, and police would be given new powers to seize voyeuristic materials, on obtaining permission from a
Previous anti-prostitutions laws were struck down by the Supreme Court which found that these laws were unconstitutional and generated an unsafe environment for sex workers.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay called the new law a Canadian model.
He claimed the bill would recognize:
The inherent dangers associated with prostitution, including many of the other real challenges in the country, including poverty, violence, addiction, mental health. And
whatever we do legislatively will of course be accompanied with programming aimed at helping women, predominantly women, exit prostitution.
A lawyer who helped persuade the Supreme Court to strike down the country's main prostitution
laws said the new law doesn't answer the court's concerns about safety of sex workers. Alan Young, who teaches law at Osgoode Hall Law School, said keeping prostitutes out of areas in which people under 18 are found, while also banning advertising of
sexual services over the Internet, leaves them with no safe place.
At the end of the day it still raises the question of what is a safe forum for someone to legally sell sexual services. I think the government position
is 'we don't want to provide a safe forum.' But that isn't really their call anymore.
Vancouver won't experience an explosion of prostitution or human trafficking during the 2010 Winter Olympics, says a study released Thursday.
Human Trafficking, Sex Work Safety and the 2010 Games by Frontline Consulting for the Sex
Industry Worker Safety Action Group said academic studies and media reports linking mega-events with increases in prostitution and sexual exploitation were based on unsubstantiated assumptions.
Neither the 2004 Athens Olympics nor the 2006
FIFA World Cup in Germany experienced any increase that could be attributed to their hallmark event.
The anticipated 40,000 cases of human trafficking for sexual exploitation failed to materialize at Germany 2006. The study said
traffickers may not have been motivated to invest in a short, one-time event. Women and families were among the international soccer fans, while males who attended did not have time, money or the inclination to visit prostitutes.
estimated up to 800 people are annually trafficked into Canada for sexual exploitation, but only five domestic trafficking convictions have ever happened in Canada.
It also noted that Vancouver does have a long history of street prostitution,
despite laws that make it illegal to communicate for the purposes of prostitution, procuring or keeping a brothel.