Canada After Bedford – What Now?


In December the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously struck down Canada’s sex work laws.

The Canadian government now has until December 2014 to choose how to reform Canada’s sex work laws.  SACHA supports the decriminalization of sex work.  Read more about our thoughts on sex work decriminalization.

It is essential that the government listens to the voices of current and former sex workers.

Until March 17th the government is running an online survey to as a form of public consultation.  Click here for the survey.

Toronto’s sex worker advocacy group, Maggie’s, has created a call to action to have more sex workers and their allies input in the consultation:

  1. Use the suggested guidelines below to craft your unique response to the consultation questions. Responses are due by March 17th. These are examples of responses — prepared for you by sex workers and allies across Canada.

  2. Submit only one response. If you need to expand or clarify something that you said in your first response, then feel free to make a follow-up submission, but make sure you indicate in the last box that you are expanding on your previous submission. IP addresses are used to track responses and you don’t want your response disqualified.

  3. Mobilize your colleagues, friends, families, individuals in organizations to fill out the consultation using these guidelines! Share these guidelines discreetly with allies and friends. Create more broad guidelines from these messages for others who you want to mobilize but may be “on the fence”. Do not post these guidelines online, rather post an invitation to be in touch with you for guidelines.

  4. If you are assisting others by transcribing their responses (for example, in a community group, during a meeting, or for people that visit your organization) be sure to state the following in the last question (which asks whether you a member of a group):

      1. State whose submission it is (in other words, the person you are assisting): I am a (community member, sex worker in X city, member of X organization, ally etc).

      2. State whether that person received assistance: I required assistance with the online submission process so another individual transcribed and submitted my answers on my behalf.

      3. State whether you borrowed someone else’s computer: I used a computer at XX organization, which may have been used by others to participate in this online consultation,

  5. Copy your own unique responses to the consultation and post them on your blogs, Facebook, and websites – they act as great educational tools!

    Important: Create a PDF or copy of your response – send one copy to your Member of Parliament (to find your MP, go here: and one copy to the person or group who sent you this Call to Action! We are trying to keep track of how many people respond and what they said.

Maggie’s Sex Workers’ Community Consultation and Advocacy Project is also hosting an event – “Our Bodies, Our Work, Our Say” – Friday, February 28th for current and former sex workers.  From their website:

SWCCAP’s mission is to center the voices of sex workers within the policy and law-making process in order to promote decriminalization as well as bring to the forefront the needs and desires of sex workers. By bringing sex workers to the table, we are working to challenge and change the dominant legal and political structures that impact our lives and our work.

Pivot Legal has been advocating to change sex work laws in Canada:

Pivot Legal is also encouraging sex workers and their allies to get involved and give input:

Criminalizing the purchase of sexual services is ineffective and harmful because it drives the industry underground where sex workers experience increased violence and decreased access to police and support services. Instead of targeting adults who are purchasing sex, police should focus on supporting sex workers’ safety through the enforcement of laws that prohibit violence and abuse (such as assault, harassment and threatening).

One idea that is on the table is for Canada to adopt a nordic model of sex work laws that criminalize people who are buying sex but not sex workers.

Both feminist and sex workers have serious concerns about the nordic model.  From The London School of Economics and Political Science:

These countries’ laws prohibiting the purchase of sex are often depicted as ways to redistribute the guilt and shame of prostitution from the seller to the buyer of sex. However, this was by no means the only argument for their introduction. Contrary to many common feminist appraisals, these laws do not in fact send a clear message as to what and who is the problem with prostitution; on the contrary, they are often implemented in ways that produce negative outcomes for people in prostitution.

One thought on “Canada After Bedford – What Now?

  1. A website is being created to act as a hub for public and media to access resources on sexwork in Canada.

    Included in this project is a petition to Justice Minister Peter MacKay to say No to the Nordic Approach and Yes to Decriminalization. That petition will launch the first week of February, 2014

    Any sexworker orgs who want to sign on as presenting Signatories, please contact us via the site.

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