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National Day of Action Against Bill C36: Criminalization Costs Sex Workers’ Lives

June 16, 2014

Across Canada, sex worker groups, along with organizations and individuals that support human rights and women's rights, are gathering to denounce the Conservative government's proposed bill (C36) to re-criminalize sex work.

The new law criminalizes selling sex in public, purchasing sexual services, advertising sexual services and benefitting from the sale of sexual services.

In Toronto, Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto, Maggie's - Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project, COUNTERfit Women's Harm Reduction Program, Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Bad Date Coalition (BDC), and the Feminist Coalition (a national coalition of 25 sexual assault centres, women’s shelters and other anti-violence agencies) are rallying together against this legislation.

“Maggie’s is devastated by the proposed legislation. Sex workers will be forced into dangerous conditions, pushed into isolated areas and their ability to screen clients and work together will be criminalized,” according to Jean McDonald of Maggie’s - Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project. “Sex work is not inherently dangerous. However, the proposed law will lead to increased violence and exploitative conditions for the most marginalized sexworkers: women who work on the street and who are disproportionatelyAboriginal, transgendered, and/or in poverty. We will see more missing and murdered women as a result of this legislation.”

Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto's Legal Director, Christa Big Canoe stated "Bill C-36 does not place the safety of sex workers as a primary objective, despite a preamble that says so. The proposed law is too similar to the old law, struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, with new language. It proposes new forms of criminalization and raises risk that will likely hurt the most marginalized sex workers.” She also said, "Raising the concerns of the most vulnerable and those impacted most by the proposed law is necessary so that decision makers understand the implications of passing this Bill."

According to Jane Doe, a well-known Toronto activist against sexual violence and coordinator of the Feminist Coalition for Full Decriminalization and the Human Rights and Labour Rights of Sex Workers (which applied to intervene in the Supreme Court Case): “The ‘new’ legislation put forward by the government will increase and even cause violence against sex workers - women who are our allies, colleagues, friends and family. An attack on that sector’s charter, human, and labour rights is an attack on all women.”

Sex workers and their supporters will meet for a public action in Toronto:
Saturday, June 14th at 2 PM.
At the North-West corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard for a public demonstration followed by a picnic.


Contact persons (Toronto)

Nora Currie
Feminist Coalition for the Decriminalization of Prostitution

Jean McDonald
Maggie's - Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project

Christa Big Canoe or Emily Hill
Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto


National Media Contacts

Stepping Stone
Fiona Traynor
Chair of the Board of Stepping Stone
phone: 902-209-6574

Big Susie's

Stella, l’amie de Maimie
Anna-Aude Couette, Outreach Coordinator, Stella (French)

Robyn Maynard, Outreach Worker, Stella (English)

JD Board President, Stella, l’amie de Maimie (English)

Projet Lune
Amelie Bedard, Coordinator, Projet Lune (French)

Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto
Christa Big Canoe or Emily Hill

Jean McDonald, Executive Director, Maggie's - Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project

Feminist Coalition for Decriminalization of Prostitution
Nora Currie

Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC)
Amy Lebovitch;; 647-829-7320
Valerie Scott;; 416-364-5603

Joyce Arthur

Velvet Steele

Pivot Legal Society
Kerry Porth

Winnipeg Working Group
Shawna Ferris

For more information contact:
Jean McDonald
Maggie's - Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project
Phone: 416-910-2073

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