Canada's Prostitution Laws
Canada's laws on prostitution came into force on December 6, 2014. These laws—embodied in the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, or PCEPA—regards prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that disproportionately impacts women and girls.
Canada's laws are based on Sweden's laws, known as the Nordic Model or the Equality Model. PCEPA follows the same approach as the Equality Model to curb sexual exploitation: buyers of sex and third parties are charged while individuals selling sex are given immunity from criminal prosecution. It recognizes that violence and psychological harm are prevalent regardless of where or how prostitution takes place. The goal is to reduce exploitation by diminishing the demand for paid sex and to offer alternatives and supports to those impacted by this harmful system.
Although adopted in late 2014, PCEPA has yet to be fully implemented and adequately enforced across Canada. However, there have been positive outcomes in the jurisdictions that have embraced it and this is an opportunity to expand application and supports across the country.
[PCEPA] seeks to protect the dignity and equality of all Canadians by denouncing and prohibiting the purchase of sexual services, the exploitation of the prostitution of others, the development of economic interests in the sexual exploitation of others and the institutionalization of prostitution through commercial enterprises, such as strip clubs, massage parlours and escort agencies that offer sexual services for sale. It also seeks to encourage victims to report incidents of violence to the police and to leave prostitution.
In October 2022, Defend Dignity appeared as one of 16 Intervenors in an Ontario Superior Court Case related to PCEPA. The hearing was in regard to an Application brought by the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform and individual sex workers against the Attorney General. The Application is challenging the constitutionality of various provisions of the criminal code related to Canada's prostitution laws.
We continue to await the judge's ruling on this matter.
On March 22, 2022 we were appeared as a witness to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as they reviewed PCEPA.
In Feb 2022 we submitted a brief to the Justice and Human Rights Parliamentary Committee as they reviewed PCEPA.
In July 2014 we presented a brief to the Justice and Human Rights Parliamentary Committee as they gave consideration to adopting PCEPA.
We believe in a Canada:
- that recognizes that every person has intrinsic worth and value and should be treated with dignity; every person whether rich or poor, whether male or female, whether living in a mansion or on a street corner, no matter their race or colour.
- where it is not the norm to be able to purchase sex.
- that protects all women and children from the inherent violence and oppression of prostitution.
- that does not see prostitution as a solution to female poverty.
- that works to end the systemic issues of poverty, homelessness, addictions and mental health concerns that are tied to prostitution.
- that works collaboratively, with all people, to end prostitution.
- where future generations will grow up knowing that no human being should be bought or sold.
"And who makes up this supply? Predominantly it is the poor, the racialized, and the vulnerable."