On May 24, 2017 Dr. Kate Shannon participated in a roundtable hosted by the Canadian Department of Justice. The purpose of this consultation was to discuss the impact of former Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA). A number of local sex work, legal policy and social justice organizations also attended, including Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV), PACE Society, WISH Drop-in Centre Society and Pivot Legal Society.
In December 2014, the former Conservative federal government enacted the PCEPA. The passage of this legislation was in blatant disregard of the evidence base as well as the unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2013 to strike down the previous laws relating to sex work. The PCEPA criminalized the purchase of sexual services and a number of other aspects of sex work such as third-party advertising, while leaving the selling of sex legal. This type of “end demand” legal regime has been increasingly adopted in EU countries and elsewhere in spite of limited research on the impact of such approaches on sex workers’ working conditions, health, and safety.
As participants in the federal roundtable, GSHI was able to present existing and emerging evidence about the impact of the criminalization of sex work in Canada. Sex workers and representatives of sex work organizations were able to speak directly to the deleterious effects of the PCEPA, and many called for the repealing of provisions prohibiting the purchase and sale of sexual services and related activities such as advertising and working with third parties.