Bill C-36 Fails Sex Workers & Canadians

PEERS new Executive Director Rachel Phillips on Bill C-36:

People who are familiar with the sex industry in Canada are profoundly disappointed in the introduction of Bill C-36 this month.

Many persons who work in the sex industry, as well as advocates, community agencies and sex-work researchers had hoped for complete decriminalization, which has been successfully in place in New Zealand for a decade. As others have noted, C-36 dismisses the concerns of people in the sex industry, ignores three decades of Canadian research and, in a surprisingly arrogant manner, dismisses the spirit of the 2013 Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

Legal experts are rightly predicting that the bill will result in further costly constitutional challenges and uneven enforcement if it becomes law. Enforcement will be disproportionately felt by the most marginalized people in the industry — a lesson already learned from previous attempts to address adult prostitution through criminalization.

What an immense waste of resources in the face of an opportunity to add to Canada’s reputation as a country that values human rights.

With the bill comes the promise of $20 million in federal funds for “exiting programs.” Like many other sex worker-serving agencies across Canada, PEERS struggles to maintain funding. So why doesn’t the $20 million announcement feel like good news?

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Letter to the Editor, Victoria Times-Colonist