Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-36. As members know, I am supportive of the bill as a response to the Supreme Court of Canada's December 20, 2013, Bedford decision. In December last year, Canadians received a Christmas present. For the most part, they did not know what was happening as they were busy getting ready for Christmas. The Supreme Court of Canada deemed all of the laws around prostitution unconstitutional. It allowed the government a year to respond to that and there has been a tremendous amount of work that has gone into the bill, including a lot of study of this important legislation. It is possibly one of the most important pieces of legislation and I am totally convinced that it will keep our youth and our people safe.
We heard from a lot of people, including front-line support workers, police services, chiefs, and experts from the legal profession. I must say that Professor Janine Benedet, one of the foremost constitutional lawyers in this country, who had worked on the Bedford case as well, fully expects the bill to be and has said that she firmly believes it is constitutional. As members know, many bills are defeated on a charter challenge. However, without a doubt the bill is constitutional.
I am especially impressed by all of the victims who came to committee and the survivors who came to testify at both committees, because that is what this is all about—survivors finally talking about what happened to them. Human trafficking and prostitution were under the public radar for years. Everyone felt that if young girls or boys sold sexual services that was what they wanted to do. However, at committee we found out it was totally opposite to what the public thought. Why is that? Because more and more families across this country are being impacted by predators who come on as their friends and lure them into the sex trade and then they get into drugs and all sorts of things.
However, they have no voice. Bill C-36 allows those victims of human trafficking and those who have been forced into the sex trade to have a voice and the freedom to come and testify before us. They are the ones who need our attention and protection and we must not forget them.
After sitting around the table listening to these survivors, I would say that every Canadian should read the testimony of that committee because they would learn a lot about what is happening to a lot of children in communities all across this country. We have learned that predators earn about $260,000 to $280,000 a year per victim. That is why they do it. It is all about the money. A lot of the people connected to those predators earn a lot of money too. Hence, what is happening in this country is that a lot of people are protecting their cashflow at the expense of modern-day slavery.
During the hearings, law enforcement agencies also came forward to express their overall support for Bill C-36 and applauded the strong message it sends to all Canadians, which is basically that we will go after the pimps and johns and we will put support systems in place for the victims of human trafficking and those people who have found themselves in the sex trade without ever intending to be there. The police officers agreed that prostitution is an inherently dangerous activity and emphasized a need to prosecute those who profit from the sexual exploitation of others. I spoke earlier about predators making between $260,000 to $280,000 per year, which is a lot of profit. The police also emphasized the need to have in place the necessary tools to protect our communities from the harms of prostitution so that parents do not have to sweep away syringes and condoms from the school grounds of their children.
It is not about arresting victims at all. The only provision within Bill C-36 has to do with schools, playgrounds and pools, right on the grounds themselves. The fact of the matter is that Canadians agree that children should be protected. More and more Canadians in communities across Canada are starting to understand that they are also protecting their own beautiful children and vulnerable children from predators, due to Bill C-36.
We heard a lot of things in committee. We also heard another perspective that said people have rights to choose any profession they want, and, of course, that is true in Canada. However, we listened to the survivors of forced prostitution, human trafficking, and all of those stories that came forward. I cannot help but emphasize the contrast between the stories of the people who said that prostitution is an industry and government is circumventing their rights if it starts addressing it, and the stories of those who have experienced pain, suffering, and victimization while at the mercy of pimps, drug dealers, brothel owners, criminal organizations, and human traffickers. It is just unbelievable. When they bravely came to committee for the first time to tell people what happened to them, it was all we could do to keep our composure.
For someone who has worked with victims of human trafficking and those who were forced into prostitution, it was very profound to see these courageous people get up at committee to talk about it.
Statistics and research show that those who are most vulnerable to becoming involved in prostitution are marginalized, disenfranchised, and vulnerable, and the vulnerable can come from middle-class Canada.
We had many cases across this country where middle-class young people came forward. They were trafficked because of the way that the predators operate. They come on as their boyfriends, and they believed they were in love and that nobody wanted to exploit them. It never crossed their minds, until all their identification was taken away and they were forced to sexually service men or women. Those are vulnerable people.
We also speak to the homeless and those who have suffered abuse as young children or have suffered from addictions. A lot of those young, underaged people who are victimized are not addicts when they go into it. It is to camouflage their pain and to get through the day that it happens.
It is critical that Bill C-36 prioritizes this vulnerable group that people are talking about more and more, to protect them from harm.
It has been seen in many countries, many jurisdictions, that targeting the johns and the pimps is the right thing to do. In this country, human trafficking and forced prostitution was under the public radar screen for a very long time. We hear over and over again that $40 million is not enough. Well, it is a very good start.
Provinces, municipalities, and others need to contribute to this as well. Bill C-36 would address, in a very bold way, a problem that has remained under the public radar screen for a very long time. It is not about taking away some person's right to choose whatever profession they want to be in; that is up to consenting adults. That is not what the bill is about. The bill is about making sure that these vulnerable populations I have been talking about are protected, that they have a chance, even if they are caught in the horrible trafficking or forced prostitution field. Now they are protected because they are able to report the abuse to the police and they are able to get out and be rehabilitated.
I am very proud of Bill C-36. I am very proud of what our government is doing. A lot of people across this nation are listening to this debate and listening to what other people have to say, on all sides of the House. There is a very strong contrast between our government, which is standing up for the vulnerable, and those who are not on the other side of the House.