First of all, Ms. Benedet did not distinguish between victims of trafficking and consenting adults in the sex industry. As my colleague Naomi Sayers made abundantly clear, those who are forced to provide sexual services against their will are victims of exploitation. That isn't sex work. The Criminal Code contains a host of provisions to deal with that reality: offences related to organized crime, human trafficking, illicit trafficking, domestic violence and extortion. In short, the Criminal Code contains enough provisions to address violence in those situations, which are appalling. As I see it, this bill does exactly the same thing as the previous provisions that were deemed unconstitutional, and even goes further.
Thank you, by the way, for giving me a chance to respond to Ms. Benedet's comment. She said police would now be able to go after clients on the street.
I am the spokesperson for the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform and I have also been a liaison officer, so I've provided outreach support to street workers. I am a sex worker. I've worked with thousands of people in the sex industry in Montreal. What I saw after the police carried out mass arrests in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area was an increase in violence towards sex workers on the street.
It's false to call that approach a new tool. Provisions already existed under section 213. Clients were arrested on the street for soliciting someone for the purchase of sexual services. Male, female and transgendered sex workers on the street were forced to hang out on dark corners for longer periods without being able to communicate with potential clients to establish an agreement. Sex workers had to get in clients' cars as quickly as possible because clients were worried about getting caught by police, not to mention the risks and violence the workers were exposed to as a result. The Montreal-based organization Stella documented that phenomenon through its list of bad johns. Power, an organization that works with sex workers in Ottawa and Gatineau, also documented the same phenomenon. The same thing was observed in Vancouver, as outlined in two recently released reports discussing the change in tactic police there adopted in 2013 to target clients. The resulting reality for sex workers between 2013 and 2014 has been documented and it exposes them to more violence.