A sex trade worker is pictured in downtown Vancouver

A sex trade worker is pictured in downtown Vancouver

Impose health rules on prostitutes: report

Impose health regulations on prostitutes, run industry like a business: report

  • Dec. 12, 2014 8:00 a.m.

By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The Canadian Public Health Association is calling on the government to regulate the sex industry as a business with rules to protect the safety of prostitutes.

In a position paper released Friday, the association says the world’s so-called oldest profession should be regulated under existing occupational health and safety regulations.

It says that would help deal with some of the root causes of prostitution, such as poverty and homelessness.

“There are indications that a public health approach based on harm reduction and addressing the social determinants of health may provide the tools needed to address the underlying factors that result in participation in the sex trade, and vulnerability to human trafficking and violence,” says the report.

The report comes after Canada’s controversial new prostitution law went into effect last week in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that found the old law violated the safety rights of prostitutes.

More than 60 groups across the country have called for a repeal of the law, which criminalizes the purchase of sex, along with advertising and some forms of communication.

The government’s new prostitution law has ignited a sweeping debate in the country over whether the sex trade should be legalized.

The House of Commons and the Senate held public hearings on the proposed new bill this year, and heard often emotional testimony from a wide range of witnesses, more than 100 in all.

The testimony laid bare a bitter divide, often among sex workers themselves, over whether prostitutes are victims or whether they are making a free and valid career choice.

The government considers prostitution a crime against women, and has said its ultimate goal is to see it stamped out entirely.

The government also announced $20 million over five years to help prostitutes leave the trade. Friday’s report called for “meaningful, appropriately resourced programs” towards exit strategies, to help prostitutes get out of the business.

Numerous witnesses, including Manitoba’s attorney general, told the Commons and Senate hearings that the current level of government funding was essentially a drop in the bucket.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne added her voice to the debate this week, saying she has grave concern about the new law. Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s office has said that Wynne had a year to come forward with suggestions before the new law was enacted.

The health association’s new report on Friday says “the current approaches to managing sex work by criminalizing either the purchase or sale of sex do not address the root causes for entry into or the results of sex work.”

The report says sex workers have a higher incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Researchers in Toronto, Barrie, and Oshawa found that many sex workers didn’t tell health professionals how they earn a living because of a fear of discrimination “and believing that it was not relevant to their visit.”

The report called for a “public health approach to sex work in Canada based on the principles of social justice, attention to human rights and equity, evidence-informed policy and practice, and addressing the underlying determinants of health.”

It said such an approach would “place health promotion, health protection, population health surveillance, and the prevention of death, disease, injury and disability as the central tenet of all related initiatives.”

It also pointed out — as have many — that aboriginal women are over-represented in the sex trade, and recommended special attention be paid to dealing with issues specific to them.

“The intergenerational trauma among First Nations and Inuit people resulting from residential schools has led to the destruction of social supports and family structures,” the report said.

“This intergenerational trauma and the resultant poverty have been identified as a root cause for sex work and the disproportionately high number of First Nations, Inuit and Metis sex workers.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read