Canadian Prostitution Laws
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer, Michael Shapray of Stern Albert Shapray, Surrey Criminal Lawyers, speaks on News1130 about Canadian Prostitution Laws – the background and the effect of the Conservative Government’s new legislation.
Given the large volume of explicit ads for sexual services found in Lower Mainland print publications, many people in Surrey, Vancouver and other cities wonder whether prostitution is legal in Canada. If you are reading this before December 6th, 2014, paying for sex in Canada with someone over 18 years of age is not a criminal offence. Rather, certain activities surrounding prostitution are illegal (including communicating in a public place for the purposes of exchanging money for sex, living off the profits of prostitution, and operating or being in a ‘bawdy house’). However, Canada’s prostitution laws are changing December 6th, 2014
NEW PROSTITUTION LAWS IN CANADA
Last year, the existing prostitution laws in Canada were challenged and found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada. The government wrote bill C-36 to replace the unconstitutional laws. When the new laws come into effect, it will be the first time that the act of buying sex will be illegal in Canada.
The court found that the existing laws violated sex workers’ constitutional rights to Security of the Person. The court held that while the laws were intended to prevent a public nuisance, their effect was to jeopardize the safety of street prostitutes. The law prevented sex workers from taking safety measures like screening clients in public, working in a safe location they are familiar with, or paying others to help them stay safe. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin mentioned serial killer Robert Pickton in her judgment and held that “Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes”.
According to Justice Minister Peter MacKay, the new laws target “johns and pimps – those that treat sex services as a commodity.” It is now an offence to purchase sex and to communicate for the purposes of purchasing it. Those communications are illegal in “any place”, not just in public. Advertising sexual services in print or on the internet is now an offence (except that sex workers are permitted to advertise their own sexual services), as is receiving a financial or material benefit from the prostitution of others. There are some additional new laws, including one that makes it an offence to communicate to sell sex near schools or daycares.