Joint submission with the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity on Bill S-224

West Coast LEAF, alongside the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE), has made a submission to the Justice Committee at the House of Commons as it deliberates on Bill S-224, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons).

Our submission urges the Committee to consider the danger of conflating sex work with human trafficking in its review of the proposed changes to the Criminal Code. We recommend that the Committee reject Bill S-224 and adopt a human rights-based approach to human trafficking that addresses the underlying structural social realities (such as poverty, precarity in immigration status, lack of access to affordable housing, health, and social services) that contribute to the risk of exploitation and abuse. The proposed changes in Bill S-224 risk capturing a wider range of third parties as “traffickers” including many of those who sex workers rely on for their safety and health.

We urge the Committee to:

  • Reject Bill S-224 in its entirety.
  • Support non-carceral and non-discriminatory approaches to safety, including community-based anti-violence programs developed by and for sex workers and affordable and adequate housing.
  • Invest in community initiatives run by and for people working in the sex industry that are non-directive, non-stigmatizing, rooted in human rights, and not focused on “exiting” sex work.
  • Invest in population specific community initiatives by and for Indigenous, Black, racialized, and migrant worker communities that enrich networks of community support.
  • Ensure full and permanent immigration status for all in Canada, without exception.
  • Engage in meaningful consultation with diverse communities of sex workers on all future proposed legislation or policy that impacts sex work.

Read the full submission here. (PDF, 268 KB)


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