On behalf of Walk With Me Canada, we support Bill C-36. We think that the abolition of the purchase of sexual services is germane to the ability to curtail human trafficking in this country. All of the research we have seen, both anecdotally and quantitatively, shows that demand is directly linked to trafficking. Therefore, we applaud the sections that criminalize the purchase of sex in this country, given that our front-line work is on human trafficking.
The second thing is that having the person delivering the sexual service criminalized is not something we can support in any great way, other than in the school or religious setting, as set out in Bill C-36. From our perspective, over 70% of the people who use our service come through a police link. Therefore, if there is no trust in that triangle of police, the person in the sexually exploited situation, and our organization, the exit strategy, in our view, will fail.
One of the things that is not covered in the bill, which is in our paper, is that we would like this committee to consider the recruitment of children. I'll give you three fast statistics from research that we have uncovered.
A study of nine countries says that 47% of people who enter prostitution do so at an age under 18. That's when they enter the work. A study recently released by the Alliance Against Modern Slavery says that at least 43% of people in Canada who enter are under the age of 18, and that includes a section on forced marriage. There was a study done by the Canadian government, in 2004, that showed that the mean age of entry into prostitution in Canada was 14 years old.
Those studies are readily available, one of them being done in 2004 by the Government of Canada.
In our paper we've set out some very good reasons why this committee should consider an amendment much like the provincial sections for protection of children who are vulnerable, so that they can be apprehended—not criminalized but apprehended—by the authorities. We don't allow people to drink and smoke in this country at 14, but apparently they can enter prostitution. You can't vote and you can't drink. We can't see why there shouldn't be an amendment that would allow children under the age of 18 who are found in prostitution to be apprehended as children in need of protection.
The last thing in my time—I'm probably over—is the $20 million. We want to encourage this committee to be serious about the money that's put into the exit strategy. When you compare Sweden and Norway, which are slightly different models, Norway put no money into exit and Sweden did. If you read the research, the results are very different for the exit strategy.
I would encourage the committee and the government to look at those issues and that we be very serious about it. I may be speaking from a bit of a partisan position, in that we're front-line workers—I'm not, but I'm the chair of a front-line worker organization, and certainly I've heard many versions on the subject of exit strategy. A holistic approach has to be taken, from re-education to recovery to counselling. There are lots of studies that say when you come out of a prostituted trafficking situation, it is similar to war veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder.
There isn't a difference between prostitution and human trafficking in our organization's view. The demand for prostitution is directly linked to the financial gain of traffickers. If there is no demand in this country, then it is our view that trafficking will be reduced, and maybe that will put us out of business. We'd be happy to go out of business, Mr. Chair, if that were the circumstance.
We have looked at it constitutionally, and we think this does meet the section 7 requirements.
We've had section 1, the notwithstanding clause, looked at by people in our organization, and we think Bill C-36 is sound. With the amendment regarding children, we support the legislation.