School’s back — and, unfortunately, so is Bill C-36

From September 9 to 11, testimony on Bill C-36 (the so- called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act) was heard by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Stéphanie Claivaz-Loranger, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Policy Analyst, and network member Kara Gillies presented to the Committee, voicing strong opposition to the bill as it will greatly affect the safety of sex workers in Canada. Stéphanie has shared her reflections on this experience:

SCL“A number of concerns were raised before the Senate by organizations and individuals, including the Legal Network, who are not in favour of this bill. Undoubtedly, the most important factor highlighted during these presentations was the damaging effect this new law would have on the safety and security of sex workers.

In R. v. Bedford, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down existing sex work laws, it was because of their infringement on sex workers’ right to security. While Bill C-36 uses a different structure and language than did the pre-Bedford law, it really just creates new offences which will in essence have the same disastrous effects on the security of sex workers as did the old offences.

The dangerous consequences that Bill C-36 would have on people who work in the sex industry are what sex worker groups focused on during the short time they were given to testify. Throughout the three days of presentations, representatives from these groups were entitled to speak for only an hour and a half total. When we think about the amount of time given for other organizations and individuals (whether they support Bill C-36 or not), this time period is grossly inadequate. This bill directly affects sex workers and is being mistakenly characterized as representing their best interests. This is certainly not the case.”

Read more about how Bill C-36 tramples on the human rights of sex workers by reading our Q&A, Reckless Endangerment.