Updates to the site as of February, 8, 2016
Are you a sex worker with questions about the news laws and their effects on your work and life?
Please contact us by e-mail or phone located HERE
The International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers is observed annually on December 17 by sex workers, advocates, friends, families and allies. The day calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers worldwide, as well as the need to remove the social stigma and discrimination which contributes to violence against sex workers. Incorporated into this day is the red umbrella which is a recognized international symbol of Sex Worker solidarity and resistance.
On this day, the Provincial Women’s committee calls attention to legislation enacted by the Federal government on December 6, that puts the lives of sex workers at risk. The Canadian government enacted Bill C-36, the erroneously-named Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which recreates the harms and violence experienced by sex workers under the previous laws criminalizing prostitution.
Bill C-36 replaces the three key provisions of the Criminal Code that were struck down by the Supreme Court on December 20, 2014 in the landmark case, Bedford v. Canada.
The Bill recreates the harms of the provisions struck down in the Bedford case, allowing the epidemic of violence against sex workers to continue. Bill C-36 views all sex workers as victims of violence, rather than understanding that it is criminalization, isolation, and the denial of rights and freedoms that breeds violence and exploitation against sex workers.
In solidarity with sex workers around the globe, the PWC calls for the full decriminalization of sex work to ensure the safety, dignity and security of all sex workers and in recognition that enforcement disproportionately targets Black, Indigenous, Migrant, Trans women and street based sex workers.
The PWC stands in solidarity with sex workers in calling for:
- The repeal of Bill C-36 and the full decriminalization of sex work in Canada
- Legal and labour rights for sex workers Provincial and Municipal non-enforcement of C-36
- The de-stigmatization of sex work
- The recognition of the dignity and value of sex workers
Coordinated by No More Silence and STRUT
No More Silence website & their statement: HERE
Date & Time: Thursday, April, 2, 2015 at 12pm(EST)
Location: Ministry of Attorney General, 720 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario.
Cindy Gladue was an Indigenous mother and 36 years old when she was murdered in an Edmonton motel room 4 years ago. Last week an almost all white and almost all male jury decided to acquit her killer, a white Ontario man, because they believed that Cindy had consented to the violence that left an 11 cm wound in her vagina causing her to bleed to death.
Cindy's death is a reminder that Indigenous women' lives and sex workers' lives are not valued in this deeply racist, sexist and misogynist society.
Others cities across Canada on April 2, 2015, will have events as well! More info can be found HERE.
For immediate release
ONTARIO TURNING ITS BACK ON SEX WORKERS
April 1, 2015 — While Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur has not yet publicly released her review of Canada’s new, misguided sex work law, we understand – according to a reported statement today by Premier Kathleen Wynne – that this review has found “no clear unconstitutionality” in the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. We disagree with this conclusion, and are profoundly disappointed that the province appears to be turning its back on sex workers and Ontarian communities, despite Premier Wynne’s own “grave concerns” with the new sex work law.
This finding flies in the face of the December 2013 ruling in R. v. Bedford, in which the Supreme Court of Canada rightly upheld the human rights of sex workers. The new law is extremely similar to the old one, which was struck down by the Court as unconstitutional, and even further criminalizes sex work in some respects. More than 190 lawyers from across Canada have gone on record expressing their concerns with the law’s constitutionality (or lack thereof). It should also be noted that the Attorney General chose not to meet with sex workers and their allies while her review was underway, preferring not to hear from those on whose backs these laws will be tested.
Canada’s current sex work law replicates – and is even worse than – the failed “Nordic” model for sex work. The model chosen targets sex workers’ clients, their means of advertising their services, and even preserves much of the unconstitutional prohibition on any communications about sexual services, including by sex workers themselves. It continues to surround sex work with a web of criminality. Sex workers have consistently articulated the many ways in which criminalizing them, their clients and their work settings does nothing to protect them, but instead undermines their ability to control their conditions of work to protect their health and safety. The law ensures that harms to sex workers will continue, and is a terrible step backwards.
Even if the Ontario Attorney General has concluded the law is “not clearly unconstitutional,” this is hardly an endorsement of the law – and certainly doesn’t remove the fact that the new provisions will contribute to the risks of harm faced by sex workers. The Government of Ontario must not enforce this misguided law. We will continue to fight for the development of laws and policies that promote health, safety and human rights for all Canadians.
December 17, 2014
ADVOCATES CALL ON PROVINCIAL LEADERS TO RESIST DEADLY LAW, END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS
TORONTO, December 17, 2014 — Today, on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex workers and their allies want to send a strong message to Canada’s provincial leaders: Reject the federal government’s toxic new law governing sex work. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has already expressed her “grave concern” that the law, brought into force December 6th, will not make sex workers any safer, and the province’s Attorney-General is assessing its constitutional validity.
Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Maggie’s - Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program (South Riverdale Community Health Centre), and the publishers of Toronto weekly paper NOW Magazine are urging other premiers to follow suit and are calling on provincial attorneys-general not to enforce the deadly new law.
“This is an important day for us to remember the appalling violence suffered by our colleagues, both internationally and here in Canada,” said Valerie Scott, legal coordinator of SPOC. “Sex workers have been abandoned by their own federal government with this new law. If our leaders truly care about making sex workers safer, they will stop criminalizing our work, our workplaces and our clients.”
“In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that several former provisions on prostitution in the Criminal Code were unconstitutional because of the harms they cause to the safety and lives of women, men and trans people who do sex work,” said Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. “But instead of listening to sex workers and honouring the Supreme Court’s ruling, the federal government has pushed through a law that largely replicates the same harms and even adds new sweeping criminal prohibitions. We call upon provincial attorneys-general not to be complicit in this legislative violence against sex workers, and today some 190 legal experts Canada-wide have told Ontario’s Premier and Attorney-General that they, too, are deeply concerned that this misguided new law will trample the human rights of sex workers.”
“Sex workers are currently living in constant uncertainty, and our lives, safety and security are left in the hands of the government. We are terrified and exhausted from the daily fears of arrest and constant deaths in our community,” said Arlene Jane Pitts, coordinator of the COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program. “I am deeply afraid
“Canada has suffered an epidemic of violence against sex workers,” said Jean McDonald, executive director of Maggie’s Toronto. “Premier Wynne, Attorney-General Meilleur and their provincial counterparts need to demonstrate their commitment to ending this epidemic. Given the serious harms at stake, they must act to ensure that prosecutions are not pursued while the constitutionality of the new law is in question.”
In the meantime, sex workers must be able to pursue their livelihood. The new law aims to silence sex workers by restricting their ability to advertise their services online or in print. But the publishers of NOW Magazine in Toronto have announced that the free weekly magazine will continue to allow advertising from independent sex workers. “We have always refused to discriminate against sex work and sex workers,” said editor/CEO Alice Klein. “Advertising offers a much safer and more secure way to connect and do business with clients. The law’s provisions around advertising actually encourage further stigmatization and violence against sex workers.”
December 6, 2014
With regret we report that Bill C-36 is now in full force and effect. C-36 is the Harper administration’s attempt to legislate an entire community out of existence. C-36 will promote violence against sex workers. Many of us explained how this will occur, in detail, at the Parliamentary and Senate committee hearings on bill C-36. The new laws will force us to work secretively, independent of each other and untraceably. Violence against us is acceptable to the Harper government, as they simply don’t care how we cease to exist, just that we do.
Know this: Sex workers are resilient. The majority of us will continue to work. Make no mistake; the ever-growing Canadian sex worker rights movement will fight this latest legal moralism. We have done it before, and we will do it again.
November 4, 2014: With sadness we inform you that Bill C-36, the anti-sex work laws, passed third reading in the Senate on November 4, 2014, with no amendments. It recieved Royal Assent on November 6, 2014, and will become law across the country in 30 days.
This new set of laws will ensure violence against us. Keeping criminalization in place will continue the stigma and social exclusion of sex workers.
Bringing forth the Bedford, Lebovitch, Scott challenge was right!
What the Supreme Court of Canada did was just!
What the Harper government is doing is a travesty!
Know this: we live to fight another day! In all of human history, no government, no army, no religion has ever stopped sex work, nor will they be able to stop what is now a global sex workers rights movement. This isn’t over!
(Jan 29, 2014)Click for :Condemnation grows as more sex workers’ groups speak out against police harassment -urge Parliament to go a different route
All Three Laws Struck Down!!
We are ecstatic to hear The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision today!!
The Court has placed a stay on the laws for one-year. There is still more to come. Parliament and municipalities can pass laws which can continue to harm us. It is imperative that sex workers are at the forefront of anything being purposed, as we are the true experts in our lives and work.
The Supreme Court of Canada's decision can be found HERE
December 17, 2013, International Day to end Violence Against Sex Workers. Click HERE for SPOC's Press release in PDF.
Nadine Gurczenski's family is seeking information on her murder (1999). They are working with a documentary film crew.
Please click HERE to view the poster.
Mission & Principles
1. SPOC is a volunteer run activist network that engages in advocacy and education.
2. SPOC operates on the principle that all forms of consensual adult sex work are valid occupations.
3. SPOC maintains that sex workers have the capacity for choice and our experiences are diverse.
4. SPOC maintains that sex workers deserve labour rights, and occupational health and safety standards defined by sex workers themselves.
5. SPOC members and associates oppose those who seek to ‘rescue’ sex workers using force or coercive measures including court imposed re-education/exit programs, jails or camps.
We stand for the decriminalization of all forms of sex work in Canada. We oppose legalization because it is always exploitive toward sex workers.
If you are a current or former sex worker, or an associate interested working toward the decriminalization of sex work while having fun and connecting with others, please do not hesitate to contact us. We encourage membership from all communities, sexual orientations and genders.
As an entirely volunteer sex worker run organization, we rely on the generous support of our community and supporters. SPOC gratefully accepts donations to assist us in our work.
Donations can be made via Pay Pal by clicking the button below
or by cheque/money order payable to:
Sex Professionals of Canada P.O. Box # 305, 245 Gerrard St. East Toronto, Ontario M5A-2G1