Updates to the site as of November 6, 2018

Are you a sex worker with questions about the new laws and the effects on your work and life?

Please contact us by e-mail or phone located HERE



Attention Sex Workers in Canada - Regarding "Operation Northern Spotlight" raids


Please click HERE to get the flyer about "Operation Northern Spotlight" and what to look out for.

Please click HERE for the Press release about "Operation Northern Spotlight"


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SPOC condemns the charges laid against our colleague Moka! She was arrested for defending herself against a predator posing as a client. This predator has a known history of physical and sexual violence. Sex workers should have the right to defend themselves like anyone else!


Maggie's is organizing court support. More information from Maggie's HERE
Please show your support for Moka by joining at court for the sentencing Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at 11am at the Superior Court of Justice; 361 University Avenue – the room is listed under “Dawkins, C.”


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Someone you love could be a sex worker | Valerie Scott | TEDxToronto

The video is in mp4 format, and can be easily watched by clicking HERE(1080p HD)

Law and Society Association Conference

Many great papers and roundtables on Sex Work happening during the Law and Society Association Conference in Toronto June 7, 2018!

Roundtable on June 7, 2018 in the Cedar Room 14:45-16:30 - Sex Work as Work: Crafting the future
Speakers: Our Valerie Scott (Sex Professioanls of Canada (SPOC), Jenn Clamen (Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform), Heather Jarvis (Safe Harbour Outreach Project (S.H.O.P.), Lanna Perrin (Maggie’s Indigenous Sex Work Drum Group), Monica Forrester (Maggie’s Indigenous Sex Work Drum Group), Elaine Lam (Butterfly, Asian and Migrant Sex Workers’ Support Network), Bettina Bouskila (Concordia University and Indy Companion) - Session Organizer: Francine Tremblay (Concordia University) - Chair:Frances M Shaver (Concordia University)


More information about the other Sex Work Panels and papers can be found HERE (DOC file download)
More information about the conference can be found HERE (Law and Society website)

Bill C-66

SPOC has been working with other organizations (Press Release and briefs submitted to the senate can be found below) to have historical bawdy-house convictions of our colleagues expunged. On December 20, 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada found the bawdy-house law as it pertains to sex work to be “grossly disproportionate” and invalidated the law. The bawdy-house law as it pertains to sex work was not reintroduced under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act of 2014, or by any other act of Parliament. Therefore, sex workers meet the criteria for expungement of historical records for the old and now defunct law.

Please find the press release HERE (english) - HERE (french)
Please find our brief to the Senate Committee on Human Rights HERE

Liberal Party of Canada resolution

At its convention in Halifax on April 21, 2018, the Liberal Party of Canada passed a resolution calling for the decriminalization of sex work. This is a first in the party’s 151 year history. We are very pleased with the intent of this resolution.

We look forward to working with the Liberal Party committee that is tasked with developing the details of decriminalization. As we work toward a more just policy, a policy that meaningfully includes and listens to the true experts, sex workers.

A detailed statement from our National Alliance, the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform:
Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform

Our legal co-ordinator Valerie Scott's interview at CBC TV:
CBC TV

Response to Backpage Takedown

In a deplorable and deliberate attack on sex work, Backpage was seized and shut down by American law enforcement, on April 6, 2018.

This is a crisis for sex workers who rely on the site to safely connect with and screen clients.

People doing sex work will be placed in precarious and dangerous situations.

We condemn these attacks on our colleagues.

Because of the advertising restrictions which were implemented in the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act in 2014, Canadian sex workers heavily relied on Backpage. Without BP, and until we can figure out new ways of working, many sex workers will be put in serious financial hardship and our safety will be severely compromised because we will all be taking risks we should not have to.

In this time of crisis, we ask you to support sex workers in our fight for our rights.

-Sex Professionals of Canada



Constitutional Case Now Ongoing In London, Ontario

A constitutional case against the Orwellian named Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), is now in its first court level. The operators of Fantasy World Escorts, Tiffany Harvey and Hamad Anwar, were facing 29 charges. Instead of capitulating, they are fighting back against these manifestly unjust laws. PCEPA ignores the spirit of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in the 2013 Charter challenge, Canada v Bedford, Lebovitch and Scott.
On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, their legal counsel, James Lockyer and Jack Gemmell had the Human Trafficking charges against Tiffany and Hamad thrown out. This leaves them fighting provisions against advertising, procuring and materially benefiting from the sex workers who benefited from using their escort service.
SPOC wishes Tiffany and Hamad all the best, and applauds them for standing their ground.

Media about this important case can be found here:

CBC - February 15, 2018

The London Free Press - February 7, 2018




OPSUE

Thursday, December 11, 2014 

The International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers is observed annually on December 17 by sex workers, advocates, friends, families and allies. The day calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers worldwide, as well as the need to remove the social stigma and discrimination which contributes to violence against sex workers. Incorporated into this day is the red umbrella which is a recognized international symbol of Sex Worker solidarity and resistance.

On this day, the Provincial Women’s committee calls attention to legislation enacted by the Federal government on December 6, that puts the lives of sex workers at risk. The Canadian government enacted Bill C-36, the erroneously-named Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which recreates the harms and violence experienced by sex workers under the previous laws criminalizing prostitution.

Bill C-36 replaces the three key provisions of the Criminal Code that were struck down by the Supreme Court on December 20, 2014 in the landmark case, Bedford v. Canada.

The Bill recreates the harms of the provisions struck down in the Bedford case, allowing the epidemic of violence against sex workers to continue. Bill C-36 views all sex workers as victims of violence, rather than understanding that it is criminalization, isolation, and the denial of rights and freedoms that breeds violence and exploitation against sex workers.

In solidarity with sex workers around the globe, the PWC calls for the full decriminalization of sex work to ensure the safety, dignity and security of all sex workers and in recognition that enforcement disproportionately targets Black, Indigenous, Migrant, Trans women and street based sex workers.

The PWC stands in solidarity with sex workers in calling for:

- The repeal of Bill C-36 and the full decriminalization of sex work in Canada

- Legal and labour rights for sex workers Provincial and Municipal non-enforcement of C-36

- The de-stigmatization of sex work

- The recognition of the dignity and value of sex workers

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No Justice No Peace - Honouring Cindy Gladue

Coordinated by No More Silence and STRUT

No More Silence website & their statement: HERE

Date & Time: Thursday, April, 2, 2015 at 12pm(EST)

Location: Ministry of Attorney General, 720 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario.

Cindy Gladue was an Indigenous mother and 36 years old when she was murdered in an Edmonton motel room 4 years ago. Last week an almost all white and almost all male jury decided to acquit her killer, a white Ontario man, because they believed that Cindy had consented to the violence that left an 11 cm wound in her vagina causing her to bleed to death.

Cindy's death is a reminder that Indigenous women' lives and sex workers' lives are not valued in this deeply racist, sexist and misogynist society.

We support the calls for an appeal and other forms of justice!

Join us to express our outrage!

Endorsed by: Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto, Women in Toronto Politics, Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Projec...t, Idle No More Toronto, South Western Ontario Sex Workers, Families of Sisters In Spirit, Outburst: Young Muslim Women’s Project, Pomegranate Tree Group, Butterfly (Asian and migrant sex workers), RAMP (Radical Access Mapping Project), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, George Brown College School of Labour, Rittenhouse, Anti-Colonial Committee in the Law Union of Ontario, Chocolate Woman Collective, Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Toronto Rape Crisis Centre Multicultural Women against Rape, COUNTERfit: Women's Harm Reduction Program (Riverdale Community Centre) Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), The Redwood, CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group, South Asian Legal Clinic Grassroots Committee-Ontario, London Prisoners Justice Film Festival, Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Critical Ethnic Studies Conference Committee (York), The Aboriginal Law Student Association of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Shameless Magazine, Black Lives Matter

Others cities across Canada on April 2, 2015, will have events as well! More info can be found HERE.





For immediate release

ONTARIO TURNING ITS BACK ON SEX WORKERS
Statement by: Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, COUNTERfit Women's Harm Reduction Program (South Riverdale Community Health Centre), Families of Sisters in Spirit, Maggie’s - Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project, POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work Educate & Resist), Sex Work Advisory Network Sudbury (SWANS), South Western Ontario Sex Workers, Sex Professionals of Canada, STRUT, Terri-Jean Bedford, Nikki Thomas, STOP The Arrests Sault Ste Marie, Butterfly (the Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network), NOW Magazine, Jane Doe (Sexual Assault Activist), The Feminist Coalition in Support of Full Decriminalization and the Labour and Human Rights of Sex Workers

April 1, 2015 — While Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur has not yet publicly released her review of Canada’s new, misguided sex work law, we understand – according to a reported statement today by Premier Kathleen Wynne – that this review has found “no clear unconstitutionality” in the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. We disagree with this conclusion, and are profoundly disappointed that the province appears to be turning its back on sex workers and Ontarian communities, despite Premier Wynne’s own “grave concerns” with the new sex work law.

This finding flies in the face of the December 2013 ruling in R. v. Bedford, in which the Supreme Court of Canada rightly upheld the human rights of sex workers. The new law is extremely similar to the old one, which was struck down by the Court as unconstitutional, and even further criminalizes sex work in some respects. More than 190 lawyers from across Canada have gone on record expressing their concerns with the law’s constitutionality (or lack thereof). It should also be noted that the Attorney General chose not to meet with sex workers and their allies while her review was underway, preferring not to hear from those on whose backs these laws will be tested.

Canada’s current sex work law replicates – and is even worse than – the failed “Nordic” model for sex work. The model chosen targets sex workers’ clients, their means of advertising their services, and even preserves much of the unconstitutional prohibition on any communications about sexual services, including by sex workers themselves. It continues to surround sex work with a web of criminality. Sex workers have consistently articulated the many ways in which criminalizing them, their clients and their work settings does nothing to protect them, but instead undermines their ability to control their conditions of work to protect their health and safety. The law ensures that harms to sex workers will continue, and is a terrible step backwards.

Even if the Ontario Attorney General has concluded the law is “not clearly unconstitutional,” this is hardly an endorsement of the law – and certainly doesn’t remove the fact that the new provisions will contribute to the risks of harm faced by sex workers. The Government of Ontario must not enforce this misguided law. We will continue to fight for the development of laws and policies that promote health, safety and human rights for all Canadians.




December 17, 2014

ADVOCATES CALL ON PROVINCIAL LEADERS TO RESIST DEADLY LAW, END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS

TORONTO, December 17, 2014 — Today, on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex workers and their allies want to send a strong message to Canada’s provincial leaders: Reject the federal government’s toxic new law governing sex work. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has already expressed her “grave concern” that the law, brought into force December 6th, will not make sex workers any safer, and the province’s Attorney-General is assessing its constitutional validity.

Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Maggie’s - Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program (South Riverdale Community Health Centre), and the publishers of Toronto weekly paper NOW Magazine are urging other premiers to follow suit and are calling on provincial attorneys-general not to enforce the deadly new law.

“This is an important day for us to remember the appalling violence suffered by our colleagues, both internationally and here in Canada,” said Valerie Scott, legal coordinator of SPOC. “Sex workers have been abandoned by their own federal government with this new law. If our leaders truly care about making sex workers safer, they will stop criminalizing our work, our workplaces and our clients.”

“In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that several former provisions on prostitution in the Criminal Code were unconstitutional because of the harms they cause to the safety and lives of women, men and trans people who do sex work,” said Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. “But instead of listening to sex workers and honouring the Supreme Court’s ruling, the federal government has pushed through a law that largely replicates the same harms and even adds new sweeping criminal prohibitions. We call upon provincial attorneys-general not to be complicit in this legislative violence against sex workers, and today some 190 legal experts Canada-wide have told Ontario’s Premier and Attorney-General that they, too, are deeply concerned that this misguided new law will trample the human rights of sex workers.”

“Sex workers are currently living in constant uncertainty, and our lives, safety and security are left in the hands of the government. We are terrified and exhausted from the daily fears of arrest and constant deaths in our community,” said Arlene Jane Pitts, coordinator of the COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program. “I am deeply afraid
of the violence that will continue to be reinforced through this new law that will ultimately cost the lives of those we love.”

“Canada has suffered an epidemic of violence against sex workers,” said Jean McDonald, executive director of Maggie’s Toronto. “Premier Wynne, Attorney-General Meilleur and their provincial counterparts need to demonstrate their commitment to ending this epidemic. Given the serious harms at stake, they must act to ensure that prosecutions are not pursued while the constitutionality of the new law is in question.”

In the meantime, sex workers must be able to pursue their livelihood. The new law aims to silence sex workers by restricting their ability to advertise their services online or in print. But the publishers of NOW Magazine in Toronto have announced that the free weekly magazine will continue to allow advertising from independent sex workers. “We have always refused to discriminate against sex work and sex workers,” said editor/CEO Alice Klein. “Advertising offers a much safer and more secure way to connect and do business with clients. The law’s provisions around advertising actually encourage further stigmatization and violence against sex workers.”
To view the open letter from legal experts in Canada to Premier Wynne, and its 190 signatories, please www.aidslaw.ca/sexwork.



December 6, 2014

With regret we report that Bill C-36 is now in full force and effect. C-36 is the Harper administration’s attempt to legislate an entire community out of existence. C-36 will promote violence against sex workers. Many of us explained how this will occur, in detail, at the Parliamentary and Senate committee hearings on bill C-36. The new laws will force us to work secretively, independent of each other and untraceably. Violence against us is acceptable to the Harper government, as they simply don’t care how we cease to exist, just that we do.

Know this: Sex workers are resilient. The majority of us will continue to work. Make no mistake; the ever-growing Canadian sex worker rights movement will fight this latest legal moralism. We have done it before, and we will do it again.

~SPOC

PLEASE CLICK HERE for the letter signed by over 60 AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS, which calls for the non-enforcement of c-36 and full decriminalization of sex work!


(June 28, 2014 at Dyke March, Toronto)

November 4, 2014: With sadness we inform you that Bill C-36, the anti-sex work laws, passed third reading in the Senate on November 4, 2014, with no amendments. It recieved Royal Assent on November 6, 2014, and will become law across the country in 30 days.

This new set of laws will ensure violence against us. Keeping criminalization in place will continue the stigma and social exclusion of sex workers.

Bringing forth the Bedford, Lebovitch, Scott challenge was right!

What the Supreme Court of Canada did was just!

What the Harper government is doing is a travesty!

Know this: we live to fight another day! In all of human history, no government, no army, no religion has ever stopped sex work, nor will they be able to stop what is now a global sex workers rights movement. This isn’t over!

(Click here for the entire Bill C-36)



Unanimous Decision!

All Three Laws Struck Down!!

We are ecstatic to hear The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision today!!
With its ruling, the court has recognized the need for sex workersʼ safety and acknowledging our work as labour.

Sex Professionals of Canada holds that sex workers are part of the community and should be allowed the safety, liberty, respect and inclusion guaranteed to all. The laws against bawdy houses, living on the avails, and communication, forced us to work in dangerous conditions and prevented us from conducting our business like other workers. With this ruling, across Canada, we finally have an end to the criminalization of sex work!

The Court has placed a stay on the laws for one-year. There is still more to come. Parliament and municipalities can pass laws which can continue to harm us. It is imperative that sex workers are at the forefront of anything being purposed, as we are the true experts in our lives and work.

~Sex Professionals of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada's decision can be found HERE


December 17, 2013, International Day to end Violence Against Sex Workers. Click HERE for SPOC's Press release in PDF.



Nadine Gurczenski's family is seeking information on her murder (1999). They are working with a documentary film crew.

Please click HERE to view the poster.


The Bedford, Lebovitch & Scott landmark challenge to Canada's prostitution laws.

{Each decision can be found by clicking on the word decision at each court level}

Previous court decisions on our challenge

First Level

Ontario Superior Court. Decision released:  September 28, 2010

Second Level

Court of Appeal for Ontario. Decision released: March 26, 2012

Third and Final Level

Supreme Court of Canada, heard this case Thursday, June 13, 2013

Webcast of proceedings at the Supreme Court is archieved HERE

The Court heard the Federal government and the AG of Ontario's appeal as well as our cross appeal. We are seeking invalidation of communicating section 213(1)(c) and the Ontario court of appeal rewrite of living on the avails 212(1)(j).

Final Decision

December 20, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada made its unanimous nine to zero ruling in our favour, striking down all three of the prostitution laws, deeming them unconstitutional. Decision can be found HERE


To view the laws in their entirety, and the subsections we are challenging, click HERE.

Media and Public Awareness

SPOC members are available for conversations & interviews with media, students and the general public.

Our contact information can be found HERE

We are available to speak at universities, colleges and conferences. Some topics we can cover; Stigma, Myths of Sex Work(ers), What is Sex Work? Sex work under decriminalization, legalization, criminalization and the nordic model (asymmetrical decriminalization) & much more!

We are also available for interviews regarding our constitutional challenge to the Canadian Criminal Code (CCC) sections, 210 (bawdy house), 212(1)(j) (living on the avails) and 213(1)(c) (communicating for the purpose of prostitution)

We are happy to provide you with:

  • The reasons why we are challenging the above laws.

  • How these laws have affected sex workers.

  • How these sections of the CCC have directly resulted in the robberies, beatings, rapes and murders of our colleagues.

  • Analysis of this challenge.


Mission & Principles

1. SPOC is a volunteer run activist network that engages in advocacy and education.

2. SPOC operates on the principle that all forms of consensual adult sex work are valid occupations.

3. SPOC maintains that sex workers have the capacity for choice and our experiences are diverse.

4. SPOC maintains that sex workers deserve labour rights, and occupational health and safety standards defined by sex workers themselves.

5. SPOC members and associates oppose those who seek to ‘rescue’ sex workers using force or coercive measures including court imposed re-education/exit programs, jails or camps.

We stand for the decriminalization of all forms of sex work in Canada. We oppose legalization because it is always exploitive toward sex workers.

Membership

If you are a current or former sex worker, or an associate interested working toward the decriminalization of sex work while having fun and connecting with others, please do not hesitate to contact us. We encourage membership from all communities, sexual orientations and genders.

Donations

As an entirely volunteer sex worker run organization, we rely on the generous support of our community and supporters. SPOC gratefully accepts donations to assist us in our work.

Donations can be made via Pay Pal by clicking the button below

or by cheque/money order payable to:

Sex Professionals of Canada P.O. Box # 305, 245 Gerrard St. East Toronto, Ontario M5A-2G1