"The bill is about protecting vulnerable Canadians, as encapsulated in the title."
Peter MacKay, “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” Edited Hansard. Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. 41st Parl., 2nd sess. Vol. 147 No. 101. 2014.
Until 2014, the Canadian criminal law prohibited acts surrounding the exchange of sex for money without specifically criminalizing the exchange itself. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Bedford, the Canadian Federal Government introduced the controversial Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. For the first time in Canadian history, the exchange of sex for money itself has been criminalized. Under the new criminal provisions, buying a sexual service is a crime but selling one is not. The new laws also criminalize advertising sexual services, and receiving a material benefit from the sale of a sexual service.
"It is incumbent on the Conservatives to introduce a law that provides a legal framework that would make sex work safer. Instead, we have a law that would do the opposite."
Sean Casey, “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” Edited Hansard. Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. 41st Parl., 2nd sess. Vol. 147 No. 101. 2014.
The goal of Bill C-36 is to decrease the demand for sex work, with the ultimate objective of abolishing sex work in Canada altogether. Critics argue that the ideological ghosts of our 19th-century past have been resurrected under the auspices of this new law. Sex workers have decried Bill C-36, arguing that it will increase the vulnerability of sex workers by changing the bargaining power of those that sell sexual services. If the purchase of sexual services is a crime, clients are likely to be more nervous, thereby pushing transactions into isolated and dangerous industrial areas. Since condoms could be used as criminal evidence, many also fear that that more clients will refuse to wear them. Sex workers are unable to legally work together, to work inside, or to advertise their services. All these factors are driving sex workers into more dangerous positions of isolation on the street.
"Bill C-36 is a gift to predators posing as clients. [...] This bill will not stop sex workers from working, it will just impede their ability to work safely."
Letter from “Rachel” read by Sean Casey, “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” Edited Hansard. Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. 41st Parl., 2nd sess. Vol. 147 No. 101. 2014.
The new Liberal government has committed to review this new law but no action has been taken so far. Accordingly, the future and safety of sex workers in Canada remains uncertain.
Read more about the bill here