Is Sex Work Legal In Canada? What Are The Criminal Charges?

What Is Sex Work In Canada?

Sex work is a mosaic of many different kinds of activities and services, which involve the exchange of sex or sexual activities for compensation, usually money. This includes but is not limited to traditional forms of prostitution, online sex work services, erotic dance, and pornography. Such services have been traditionally created and rendered by women, although all genders can partake in it.

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Are Sex Work Services Legal In Canada?

In Canada, sex work is a legal activity, however, there are several restrictions in place. In 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that laws criminalizing aspects of sex work were unconstitutional and gave the Canadian government a year to create a new legal framework regarding sex work. In 2018, the government updated the laws legalizing the exchange of sex work services, and the buying of sexual services, although with certain restrictions.

Legalities by Province

Since sex work is legalized in Canada, the laws can vary by province. Here are the specifics for each:

Alberta

Sex work is legal in Alberta, however buying sexual services is illegal. Indoor services are allowed, although no one is allowed to offer sexual services near an educational institution or school.

British Columbia

In British Columbia, prostitution is legal but only if the buyer and seller are at least 18 years of age, and if the sex worker does not work in an area where there could be youth present. Indoor services are allowed and regulated by municipal bylaws.

Manitoba

In Manitoba, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services, but not legal to advertise for them. It is also illegal to communicate in any public place for the purpose of buying or selling sex services.

New Brunswick

It is legal to buy and sell sexual services in New Brunswick. It is illegal to spread or publicize ads for sex work.

Newfoundland and Labrador

In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services. It is also illegal to communicate for the purpose of buying or selling sex services in public places.

Northwest Territories

It is legal to buy and sell sexual services in the Northwest Territories. However, it is illegal to advertise or spread word about sex services.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services, however it is illegal to post ads or offer them in public places.

Nunavut

It is legal to buy and sell sexual services in Nunavut. It is illegal to communicate in order to buy or sell sexual services in public places.

Ontario

In Ontario, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services, however it is illegal to advertise them or offer them in public places.

Prince Edward Island

In Prince Edward Island, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services. It is illegal, however, to advertise or to communicate in any public place for the purpose of buying or selling sexual services.

Quebec

In Quebec, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services, however it is illegal to advertise them or to communicate in public for the purpose of buying or selling sex services.

Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services, however it is illegal to advertise them or to communicate in any public place for the purpose of buying or selling sexual services.

Yukon

In the Yukon, it is legal to buy and sell sexual services, however it is illegal to advertise them, or to communicate in a public place for the purpose of buying or selling sexual services.

A Closer Look At Canadian Sex Work Laws

While the Canadian government has legalized aspects of sex work as mentioned above, there are still various criminal codes that exist in regards to sex work, or exchanging sexual services. While some of these laws may seem outdated and unnecessary, they have been implemented to protect the safety of those working in the sex industry, as well as the integrity of the laws surrounding it.

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Sex Work

Sex work can be conducted either indoors or outdoors. Indoor sex work includes brothels, massage parlours, private residences, and hotel rooms. Outdoor sex work includes street solicitation, cars, public neighborhoods, or areas around an educational facility.

The Criminalization Of Exchanges

Exchanging money, goods or services for sex is still criminalized in Canada, although certain sex work services are legal. It is illegal to purchase or exchange sexual services in any youth presence area. It is also illegal to purchase sexual services from any person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, it is illegal to purchase sexual services from any person who has been forced, threatened or coerced into prostitution, as well as any person who is under the age of 18.

Living Off The Avails Of Sex Work

It is also illegal to live off the avails of sex work, meaning that it is illegal to benefit from the business of prostitution either directly or indirectly. This includes encouraging or profiting from the prostitution of another person, or living in a shared household with a sex worker as if business matters are shared. This law was created to protect those who are involved in the sex work industry, as it is illegal to benefit from the exchange of sex for money without taking part in it.

Punishments for Illegal Sex Work

The punishment for engaging in the illegal exchange of sex services, or living off the avails of sex work is a monetary fine, and/or a jail sentence of up to 5 years. For those under the age of 18, there are no monetary fines, however, those found guilty will be given a warning or referral to community resources.

In conclusion, sex work is legal in Canada under certain circumstances. Those engaging in illegal sex work services, or living off the avails of sex work, are subject to a range of punishments including monetary fines, and/or a jail sentence of up to 5 years depending on the severity of the crime. While the government has chosen to legalize certain aspects of sex work, they have also put stringent measures and laws in place to protect the safety of the people involved in the industry, as well as its integrity.

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