A Conservative bill aimed at restricting the sex trade and discouraging prostitution has passed the Senate, leaving it one step away from becoming law despite warnings it will endanger sex workers and could ultimately be found unconstitutional.
Bill C-36, passed Tuesday, was tabled after the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s prostitution laws in its Bedford ruling last December. The court found the laws violated sex workers’ Charter rights to safety, and gave the government one year to put in place new laws.
In turn, C-36 largely criminalizes the buying of sex, rather than the selling, but could still lead to sex workers being charged by placing restrictions on when they can discuss a transaction. Critics, as such, have warned the new bill is also unconstitutional because it will once again endanger sex workers.
Nonetheless, the bill passed its third reading vote in the Senate on Tuesday, unaltered from the version that passed the House of Commons on Oct. 6. It now only needs royal assent, a formality, to become law before the old laws expire next month.