On December 6, 2014, Bill C-36—the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA)—came into force, regulating sex work in Canada with the stated aims of protecting sex workers, communities, children and reducing the demand for sex work. PCEPA views sex work as sexual exploitation of women and girls.
S. 286.1 - THE PURCHASING OFFENCE
S. 286.4 - THE ADVERTISING OFFENCE
S. 286.2 - THE MATERIAL BENEFIT OFFENCE
This offence criminalizes “[r]eceiving a financial or other material benefit”³ from sex work if you are anyone other than the sex worker themself. The offence contains additional exceptions for “legitimate family and business relationships,”4 such as regular interactions with a spouse, roommate, dependents, or in the course of accessing services offered to the general public (e.g., paying rent). However, the material benefit offence is a ‘reverse onus’ provision – meaning that anyone who lives with or who is habitually in the company of a sex worker is presumed guilty of this offence and must prove they fall under one of the stated exceptions.
S. 286.3 - THE PROCURING OFFENCE
This offence criminalizes “[p]rocuring a person to offer or provide sexual services”.5 This offence includes the prohibition of any “recruiting, holding, concealing or harbouring”6 of a person in order to facilitate the purchase of sexual services (effectively conflating sex work with human trafficking).
Subsection 213(1.1) - THE COMMUNICATING OFFENCE
This offence prohibits “[c]ommunicating for the purposes of offering or providing sexual services… in public places that are or are next to school grounds, playgrounds or daycare centres”7 (contradicting asymmetrical criminalization by targeting street-based sex workers).
For a more in-depth look at PCEPA, see SWAN’s analysis of its provisions, their impacts and recommendations for improvement.
See how Canada’s anti-human trafficking laws also negatively impact sex workers.
1 Prostitution Criminal Law Reform: Bill C-36 the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act – Fact Sheet