All Resources > Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) Analysis

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) Analysis

The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) criminalizes many activities related to sex work, putting sex workers at risk of violence, exploitation, and other crimes and human rights violations. 

Because PCEPA views sex work as exploitation, it aims to reduce demand for sexual services and ‘protect’ women and girls. However, the provisions within PCEPA make sex work more dangerous and do not reduce demand.

Among other things, PCEPA provisions cause harm to sex workers by:

  • driving the industry underground, which increases the risk of violence, exploitation and poor working conditions
  • preventing sex workers from hiring security/bodyguards, drivers, receptionists or anyone else that may assist in the course of their work and help keep them safe
  • conflating sex work and human trafficking
  • unfairly targeting street-based sex workers by diverging from asymmetrical criminalization

SWAN’s Recommendations


Decriminalize sex work in Canada to ensure sex workers have access to their basic human rights, including health and social services and access to legal and labour protections.


Stop the conflation of sex work and human trafficking and/or child sexual exploitation.


Repeal PCEPA to prevent the harms it causes to sex workers, putting them at risk of violence and exploitation, as well as at risk of criminalization, arrest, detention and deportation.

See SWAN’s backgrounder on PCEPA.

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