Governments have failed Canada’s sex workers—and they’re running out of patience
Maclean's September 06, 2018
The Conservatives’ Bill C-36 made it harder for sex workers to do their job safely—and despite their promises, the Liberals haven’t fixed the problem, either.
That legislation, Bill C-36, came into effect in 2014 under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, and it was opposed by all opposition parties at the time, including Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, who contended that the legislation was unconstitutional and failed to comply with that Supreme Court ruling. During the 2015 federal election campaign, Trudeau vowed to undo or fix various criminal justice reforms brought in by his predecessor, painting the Tories’ tough-on-crime agenda as heartless and damaging. And when they won, they affirmed that work would be under way on these issues.
But now—three years after the Liberals won a majority government, four years after C-36 came into force, five years after the Supreme Court ruled that Canada’s long-standing prostitution laws were unconstitutional, and six years after shifts in policing strategy started producing meaningful change in Vancouver—any plans for reform appear to have stalled, despite government consultations about a year ago. And now, with just a year left before the next election, there is scant time left to introduce new legislation.
Although this promise originally had no timeline, no bill has yet been tabled to revert the changes introduced by the Conservative government’s Bill C-36 (it’s important to note Bill C-36 received royal assent in 2014, which makes it a law; only another law can now revert it). This promise status will be updated accordingly if/when a new bill is tabled that aims to re-amend the Criminal Code to remove elements introduced by Bill C-36 in 2014.