In the past three years, there have been several amendments to the laws surrounding prostitution in Canada. This has deepened the confusion surrounding the question: Is prostitution a crime? With the passing of Bill B C-36 on December 6th, 2014, the following actions are now criminalized.
The buying of sex, which is defined as "obtain[ing] for consideration… the sexual services of a person" is punishable by penalties that include jail time of up to five years in some cases and minimum cash fines that increase after a first offence. The second criminalized action is communicating for sex or third-party advertising of sexual services.
A "sexual service" is defined as any service for which a person "receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly" from its sale. Anyone who profits from such a service faces up to 10 years in prison.
While it remains illegal to purchase sexual services, the act of selling them is, in fact, still legal. Additionally, sex workers can advertise their services, although platforms that advertise for them could face prosecution.
Is It Illegal to Work With Sex Workers?
There are specific circumstances under which it is not illegal to work with sex workers. These include situations where one has a "legitimate living arrangement" with a sex worker, receives the benefit "as a result of a legal or moral obligation" of the sex worker, sells the sex worker a "service or good" on the same terms to the general public, or offers a private service to sex workers for a fee that is "proportionate" to the service, provided they do not "counsel or encourage" sex work.
Legal Review By:
Criminal Defence Lawyer (B.A., L.L.B.)
Jonathan Pyzer, B.A., L.L.B, distinguished McGill University and University of Western Ontario alumnus, is a dedicated criminal defence lawyer throughout Ontario. Co-founder of Kostman & Pyzer, Barristers, he focuses on defending individual rights.