This moralistic view has produced a bill that, in its current form, in no way addresses the concerns raised by the Supreme Court of Canada. Nor does it comply with the spirit of the Bedford ruling, the intent of which was to allow the implementation of safety measures that are necessary to protect us.
On the contrary, the proposed reforms do the same harm and are actually more repressive because they target the sex industry as a whole. Consequently, we are being denied the ability to put any safety measures in place, not to mention our constitutional rights to equality, life, liberty and security, as well as freedom of expression and association.
Bill C-36 will produce the same harmful effects, or worse, because it upholds the objectives of the provisions deemed unconstitutional in Bedford.
Let's look at the impact proposed section 213(1.1) would have. Unlike the previous section, which applied to any public place, the new provision would apply only to a public place where persons under the age of 18 could be present. Given that young people under the age of 18 can be expected to be present in a wide variety of public places, the scope of the legislation remains very broad and could also extend to places where sex workers see their clients. Mr. MacKay even said that the provision applied to hotels, even though they are places where sex workers conduct their business.
The result of the reforms will be virtually identical to that of the provisions deemed unconstitutional under section 7 of the charter. They will create dangerous conditions because they fail to take into account the movement of sex workers or their ability to communicate for the purpose of screening potential clients to protect themselves and establish clear agreements. The new legislation will not respect our constitutional right to life, liberty and security.
Now let's turn to proposed section 286.1. The effects that criminalizing our clients has on our lives and our work are already known. Clients were already subject to criminal offences under sections 210 and 213. What criminalizing clients does is increase violent behaviour. Sex workers linger on street corners longer, end up agreeing to take clients they would have otherwise refused and offer services that go beyond what they are capable of providing, and all for less money. And above all, they are subjected to more violent behaviour that can even result in their death. If this new section comes into force, clients will no longer tell us any personal information about themselves, a vital part of protecting ourselves from those who would do us harm. This approach goes against the Bedford ruling, because it criminalizes both our working and personal relationships, while violating our right to personal security.
New sections 286.2 and 286.3(1) are, to some degree, more restrictive versions of the previous offence of living on the avails of prostitution. The ability to work together and to hire security guards is, however, a key part of doing that. The provisions are far-reaching and violate not just our safety, but also the provision repealed in the Bedford ruling. Third parties are needed to ensure our safety, and they play an important role in helping us avoid isolation.
New section 286.4 could apply to sex workers who work together and jointly advertise their sexual services. Without newspaper, online and other types of advertising, we are left with very few ways of working safely in private settings, in addition to being even more isolated. Thus, the provision goes against the Bedford ruling, which clearly stipulates that our ability to work in safer indoor private locations is paramount in minimizing risks. Web sites where we post ads provide us with a wealth of information, including information on bad clients. They also allow us to talk to others about safety measures, conduct client reference checks and share information on third parties for hire and their services, all of which are vital to ensuring our safety.