GSA Council has by motion 19.08.2014 – 06 supported the following open letter by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4600

Open letter Opposing Bill C-36 from CUPE 4600

Bill C-36 “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” has been a moment of contention in Canadian politics for the past few months. The Conservative Government wrote Bill C-36 in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision that struck down the existing Canadian Prostitution Laws in the case of AG vs. Bedford. It was recently taken to the Committee of Justice and Human Rights, which made some amendments to the legislation. In their briefing note, Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist (POWER) argued that this new model does not address the issues raised by the court in Bedford. Instead, Bill C-36 criminalizes various aspects of sex work and makes it increasingly difficult and dangerous for sex workers. Furthermore, the current Minister of Justice, Peter McKay, has shown a significant lack of understanding of gender equality or equity and the conditions of women and other marginalized groups face in Canada. It is clear that Peter McKay has shown no effort to challenge the patriarchal and oppressive structures of Canadian society. Criminalizing clients of sex workers magnifies sex workers’ vulnerability to violence. According to POWER, this new legislation imposes more danger, more criminalization and fewer options for sex workers. Sex work is a legitimate form of labour and should be understood by the Canadian government and society in this way. In addition, sex workers’ rights are human rights.

CUPE National and the CLC (Canadian Labour Congress) share the belief that sex work is a legitimate form of labour and should be considered and treated as such. As active members of the Ottawa community, CUPE 4600 members care about the dignity and safety of all workers and understand healthy working conditions to be an important value held by community members. A community that respects the rights of all workers is a healthy community and one that we strive for. Due to the highly problematic nature of Bill C-36, CUPE 4600 condemns this Bill and urges the Canadian government to withdraw Bill C-36 and to provide legislation that does not endanger or harm sex workers.