Bill C-36, which regulates sex work in Canada, is set to become law by December. The bill is the Conservative government’s response to a Supreme Court decision last December that struck down key provisions of Canada’s existing sex work legislation on the grounds that it actively endangered sex workers. Where the government had the opportunity to improve its policies and promote the safety of sex workers, it instead wrote a law that addresses none of the Court’s concerns and perpetuates the harmful stigmatization of sex work.
Not a solution
The bill effectively replicates and expands the harmful provisions that were struck down last year, such as the criminalization of brothels and public communication for the purpose of sex work. It restricts the purchase or sale of sexual services in public spaces, criminalizes the involvement of third parties such as bodyguards and drivers (who are key to the safe conduct of sex work) introduces the criminalization of those who purchase sexual services, and prevents sex workers from advertising. All of these provisions prevent the creation of a safe space for conducting sex work – they force sex workers to do business on the streets and underground.