The Government of Canada is seeking the public's input on the criminal law's response to adult prostitution (i.e. the sale and purchase of sexual services from persons 18 years of age or older). This online consultation is open from February 17 to March 17, 2014.
On December 20, 2013, in the case of Bedford v. Attorney General of Canada 1, the Supreme Court of Canada found three Criminal Code prostitution offences to be unconstitutional and of no force or effect. This decision gives Parliment one year to respond before the judgment takes effect. Input received through this consultation will inform the Government's response to the Bedford decision.
You will find some specific questions on this issue at the end of this document. To put them in context, here is a brief overview of the current criminal laws addressing prostitution, the Bedford decision, and existing international approaches to prostitution.
Prostitution is a complex and controversial social issue. Although there is a lack of consensus on how the criminal justice system should treat adult prostitution, it is generally acknowledged that prostitution poses risks to those involved and to the communities in which it is practised.
Current Criminal Laws Governing Prostitution
Adult prostitution is not illegal in Canada; however, the Criminal Code prohibits three types of prostitution-related activities:
- activities related to brothels, or "bawdy houses," as they are called in the Code (sections 210 and 211);
- procuring and living on the avails of prostitution (section 212); and
- communicating in a public place for the purposes of prostitution (section 213).
The Supreme Court of Canada's Bedford DecisionThe Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Bedford v. Attorney General of Canada found threeCriminal Code prostitution provisions unconstitutional:
- the bawdy house offence with respect to the practice of prostitution (section 210 prohibits keeping and being an inmate of or found in a bawdy house);
- the living on the avails offence (paragraph 212(1)(j), which prohibits living in whole or in part on the earnings of prostitutes); and
- the communicating offence (paragraph 213(1)(c), which prohibits communicating in a public place for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or obtaining the sexual services of a prostitute).
The Supreme Court's decision does not take effect for one year. If there is no legislative response, the result of this decision would be decriminalization of most adult prostitution-related activities:
- indoor prostitution (e.g. in a house or apartment, massage parlour, or strip club);
- providing services to prostitutes (e.g. as a bodyguard or a driver); and
- communicating for the purposes of purchasing or selling sexual services in public places (e.g. in the street).
- Decriminalization/legalization: Jurisdictions such as Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia have decriminalized and regulated prostitution.
- Prohibition: All states in the United States, with the exception of the state of Nevada, prohibit both the purchase and sale of sexual services, as well as the involvement of third parties (e.g. pimps) in prostitution.
- Abolition (the "Nordic Model"): Sweden, Norway and Iceland have adopted a criminal law response that seeks to abolish the exploitation of persons through prostitution by criminalizing those who exploit prostitutes (clients and third parties) and decriminalizing prostitutes themselves. These countries have also implemented social programs to help prostitutes leave prostitution (e.g. exit strategies and supporting services).
Please make any comments you have in the text boxes below. Keep your comments brief and concise, as there is a 500-word limit per text box. You can also submit your comments directly to
1. Do you think that purchasing sexual services from an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: No, it should be seen as a service. Period. There are many individuals that cannot get out to date and are considered 'date worthy' that could use the services, ie invalids, quadriplegics, etc., that could still lead healthy sexual lives with the assistance of sex workers. Human beings are in the survival of the 'fittest' mode and oftentimes, there are those that are at the bottom of the sexual totem pole or work too long hours to have the time to date and meet a sexual partner. Sex workers certainly have the time to accommodate these people as well so they maintain a healthy (even if over worked) lifestyle, and can use it as a stress reducer. The media has portrayed 'Johns' as degenerates of society, but in reality...normal every day men and women use the services of sex workers for various reasons: workaholics, travellers, not wanting to make a commitment to a heavily promoted monogomous lifestyle, people who suffer from Agoraphobia, who are extremely shy, as well as a vast number of other reason. They are normal sexual beings and these services are geared towards them more so than the cheating husband.
2. Do you think that selling sexual services by an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: No. So long as the adult is consenting to selling sexual services because they WANT to (not being coerced or forced by a pimp or other), it is their body to do with as they wish. Not some government officials, strangers or neighbours. North America has a stupid religious phobia against having sex outside of procreation, but sex is pleasurable and should be promoted as such in a positive manner. We are no longer just Catholics for this to stand up anywhere morally. The "Church" no longer is a factor in many citizens' lives to validate prostitution as immoral (won't start on that debate!). Forcing someone into the sex trade should be illegal however as it takes away an adult's consent...and the 'pimp' should be charged appropriately. Sex should always be consensual, so there would be no need of pimps. Treat it as a business, with security and taxed as any other service provider would be taxed, and the criminal element will disappear, ie brothels have been around for a very long time with great success outside of the police shutting them down for someone else's morales.
3. If you support allowing the sale or purchase of sexual services, what limitations should there be, if any, on where or how this can be conducted? Please explain.
Comment: Certainly not on the streets as it is now. Set up in the business district, obviously, and over time it will change to just another day at work. Have the sex workers enforce safe sex and get tested regularly (every week) for STIs and ensure they are treated properly and immediately. Have security since there will no doubt be an uproar initially because of the bible-thumpers objecting to us going to Hell, a receptionist/office manager for bookings, etc. Rules on behaviour for 'clients' should be followed as well. When a sex worker does manage to get an STI, they are taken out of pool immediately to prevent risk of transmission. Insurance premiums (probably initially obnoxiously high) can be implemented to put them on short-term disability in this instance for most treatments.
4. Do you think that it should be a criminal offence for a person to benefit economically from the prostitution of an adult? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: No. Should it be a criminal offence for a person to benefit economically from the sweat off a MacDonalds employee making burgers, or a construction worker building a house? Or how about benefitting from a professional hockey player or swimmer? Or how about a model or movie star? Why should prostitution be ANY exception or any different? Too many years stuck with someone saying it's wrong is the only answer to this, and not providing valid enough reasons except fear from those being coerced. There ARE people who actually enjoy having sex for the sake of having sex! Gasp!
5. Are there any other comments you wish to offer to inform the Government's response to theBedford decision?
Comment: As far as the Bedford decision, I happen to follow Terri-Jean Bedford and commend her and the other ladies for sticking up and supporting an industry that has been around for as long as know records were in place. I am in the BDSM community, and consent is paramount to everything we do, whether sexual or non-sexual. We are willing adults, and frankly this idea that prostitutes/sex workers are the scourge of the Earth has gone on unchallenged for so long, people are tired of the lame excuses and slut shaming of women. Religious zealots have degraded women for far too long, and it is only a matter of time before sex work is considered a normal job, without the stigma attached.
6. Are you are writing on behalf of an organization? If so, please identify the organization and your title or role:
Comment: No. I am writing as an individual
If you wish to send in your own comments, follow this link:
It's about time we stop this nonsense, get rid of the criminal element of prostitution by making it legal overall, and allow those that want to enjoy getting paid for sexual services to do so in the same manner as any other person using their body (models, sports personnel, and so on) to make money. Most of all to get rid of the stigma attached to sex work.