“Rather than criminalizing sex work, we need a harm reduction and human rights strategy that empowers sex workers to take all measures necessary to ensure health and safety in their work,” said Garrison. “This review could be the first step on the road to the decriminalization of sex work and will keep many marginalized people safe.”
Although a review of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) is mandated by legislation, legislation on medical assistance in dying, conversion therapy, and training for judges is expected to take priority. This contentious law, passed in 2014, criminalized the purchase of sexual services for the first time in Canadian history.
“The PCEPA review must begin right away because lives are at risk,” said Garrison. “Sex workers have been operating in dangerously unsafe conditions since this bill was adopted and we have to take action to help them stay safe.”
Garrison’s motion (M-44) requires that an ex officio member from the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform be included and participate in the meetings of the committee, take part in proposing and questioning witnesses, and be included in the drafting of the report.
“Sex workers must take part in the study of this legislation and not just be subject to it,” said Jenn Clamen, National Coordinator of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform. “Sex workers are tired of being unheard and they need action now.”
“We have a responsibility to act, as legislators in the House, to make this a better and safer country for all workers, including sex workers,” added Garrison.