Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

December 01, 2014 18:49 ET

Government of Canada Announces $20 Million to Help Victims Leave Prostitution

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 1, 2014) - Department of Justice Canada and Public Safety Canada

Today, Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, Peter MacKay announced that the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act will come into force on December 6. The new criminal law provisions, together with new funding of $20 million to support programming for those who want to leave prostitution, provides a comprehensive approach to assisting victims of sexual exploitation and protecting Canadians from the harms of prostitution.

Through the Department of Justice Canada's Victims Fund, $10.47 million will be made available to support programming to help sellers of sexual services get out of prostitution. Front-line organizations will be considered for funding under a call for proposals, which is being launched today. Eligible projects will provide victims with services such as trauma therapy, addiction recovery, employment training and financial literacy. Projects that offer transitional housing, emergency safe houses and drop-in centres will also be considered.

Under a second call for proposals, also available today through the Victims Fund, law enforcement agencies are eligible to propose projects that will support outreach activities to connect those involved in prostitution with both emergency and long-term services, such as those mentioned above. In addition, Public Safety Canada will issue a call for letters of intent in the coming days for projects that will assist those who want to exit prostitution. Through the National Crime Prevention Strategy, Public Safety Canada is committing $9.55 million to support community-based organizations in helping individuals who wish to exit prostitution.

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada is following through on its commitment to make our streets and communities safer by protecting victims and communities from the harms caused by prostitution.

  • Recognizing the significant harms that flow from prostitution, the Government of Canada is making new funding of $20 million available over the next five years (2015-2016 to 2019-2020) to complement the criminal law reforms that come into force on December 6, 2014.

  • The new resources demonstrate the Government's commitment to meaningfully support those exploited through prostitution.

  • Eligible organizations can apply for the following calls for proposals:

    • Department of Justice Canada's Social Programming Funding for Non-Governmental and Governmental Organizations, which will support eligible governmental and non-governmental organizations in providing or enhancing services that assist sellers of sexual services in leaving prostitution;

    • Department of Justice Canada's Social Programming Funding for Law Enforcement Agencies, which will support Canadian law enforcement agencies in providing new or enhanced support or outreach activities to assist sellers of sexual services wishing to leave prostitution, including victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation; and,

    • Public Safety Canada's Crime Prevention Action Fund, which will support eligible non-governmental and governmental organizations to develop tailored and comprehensive services to help individuals exit prostitution. Letters of intent for this funding will be accepted in the very near future.

Quotes

"Prostitution is an inherently exploitative practice fuelled by the demand created by those who purchase sexual services. This new law aims to reduce the demand for prostitution, while the funding will assist those who sell their sexual services exit a destructive life. This law will contribute to safeguarding our communities from the harms associated with prostitution."

Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

"Today's announcement clearly demonstrates that we are using all the tools at our disposal to assist victims and make our streets and communities safer. That is why, very shortly, we will issue a call for letters of intent through our Crime Prevention Action Fund for community-based projects that assist individuals who wish to exit prostitution."

Steven Blaney, Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Related Products

Backgrounder: Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

Backgrounder: Federal Victims Strategy and Victims Fund

Backgrounder: Crime Prevention Action Fund

Associated Links

Technical Paper

Call for Proposals for Non-governmental and Governmental Organizations

Call for Proposals for Law Enforcement Agencies

Victims Fund

Crime Prevention Action Fund - Call for Letters of Intent

Crime Prevention Funding Programs

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Backgrounder

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

The Government of Canada's comprehensive and "made-in-Canada" approach to address prostitution includes two essential parts, program funding to help vulnerable persons leave prostitution, and criminal law reform - the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act - in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Canada v. Bedford.

Programs to Address Prostitution

The Government announced new funding over five years (2015-2016 to 2019-2020) to complement the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act to help protect vulnerable Canadians and help victims leave prostitution. These new resources will be distributed through a call for proposals under the Victims Fund. In the near future under a call for letters of intent through the Crime Prevention Action Fund, funding will be provided to support those individuals who wish to exit prostitution and demonstrate the Government's commitment to support those exploited by prostitution.

The purpose of this funding is to support projects that provide or enhance services that assist vulnerable individuals leave prostitution. Projects that could be considered for funding may include some of the following elements:

  • Providing victims with both short-term and long-term strategies to exit prostitution which includes services that can help them build skills and resilience, such as: trauma therapy; counselling and addiction recovery; skills building and education; employment training; financial literacy; parenting skills; life-skills programs; and empowerment;

  • The use of emergency safe houses and drop-in centres for those contemplating leaving prostitution as well as mid-term and long-term safe transitional housing; and,

  • Providing victims with the support needed to participate in the justice system including access to basic legal information.

Funding is also available for law enforcement agencies from across the country to provide new or enhanced support or outreach activities to assist those individuals wishing to leave prostitution, including victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Activities that could be considered for funding for law enforcement may include some of the following elements:

  • Providing outreach services to build relationships of trust in order to assist those involved in prostitution access emergency and long-term services being offered by non-governmental organizations and/or governmental organizations, to encourage an exit from prostitution;

  • Building connections and/or partnerships with organizations offering services to victims of sexual exploitation to help facilitate an exit from prostitution;

  • Providing victims of sexual exploitation with assistance to reconnect with their families, friends or loved ones or communities to help facilitate their exit from prostitution;

  • Adapting outreach approaches to be consistent with the new objectives of the criminal law reforms; and,

  • Providing victims with the support needed to participate in the justice system, including access to basic legal information.

Objective of the Criminal Law Reform to Address Prostitution

The objectives of the new law are to reduce the incidence of prostitution, as well as to protect those who sell their own sexual services, vulnerable persons, and Canadian communities from the harms associated with prostitution.

To achieve these objectives, new offences have been enacted and existing offences have been modernized.

New Prostitution-Related Offences

Purchasing sexual services - This new offence prohibits purchasing sexual services and communicating in any place for that purpose. Maximum penalties are 18 months imprisonment on summary conviction and five years imprisonment on indictment. There is a mandatory minimum fine on the first offence, which increases with subsequent offences. There is a $500 fine for a first offence and a $1,000 fine for a subsequent offence on summary conviction, as well as a $1,000 fine for a first offence and a $2,000 fine for a subsequent offence on indictment. These fines are doubled if the offence is committed near parks, schools, religious institutions or other places where children could reasonably be expected to be present. Purchasing sexual services from a child is an indictable offence that now carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a mandatory minimum penalty of six months imprisonment for a first offence and a mandatory minimum penalty of one year imprisonment for a subsequent offence.

Receiving a financial or material benefit - This new offence prohibits profiting from the prostitution of others, including through businesses that sell the sexual services of others online or out of venues, such as escort agencies, massage parlours, or strip clubs. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment. Where the victim is a child, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment and the mandatory minimum penalty is two years imprisonment.

Advertising the sale of sexual services - This new offence prohibits advertising the sale of others' sexual services, whether in print media or on the Internet. Courts now also have the power to authorize the seizure of materials containing such advertisements, and to order an advertisement to be removed from the Internet. Maximum penalties are 18 months imprisonment on summary conviction and five years imprisonment on indictment.

Communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places that are or are next to specific locations designed for use by children, i.e., school grounds, playgrounds and day care centres - This new offence prohibits communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places that are in or are next to specific locations designed for use by children, i.e., school grounds, playgrounds and day care centres. The maximum penalty is six months imprisonment.

Modernized Prostitution-Related Offences

Procuring (also known as "pimping") - This offence prohibits procuring, recruiting or harbouring another person for the purposes of prostitution. The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment and, where the victim is a child, a mandatory minimum penalty of five years applies.

Child prostitution (and related offences) - Child prostitution offences have been reformulated as aggravated forms of the purchasing, material benefit and procuring offences with higher penalties, as indicated above.

Human trafficking (and related offences) - Penalties for human trafficking have been increased to ensure consistency of penalties between trafficking and prostitution offences.

Exceptions to Proposed Prostitution-Related Offences

Prostitution is an inherently dangerous activity that poses a risk of violence and psychological harm to those subjected to it both from purchasers of sexual services and from third parties, regardless of the venue or legal framework in which it takes place. This is why one of the new law's main objectives is to reduce the incidence of prostitution.

Because some may remain subjected to prostitution, the new law does not prevent those individuals who are selling sexual services from taking certain safety measures noted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its Bedford decision, such as: hiring legitimate bodyguards; selling sexual services from a fixed indoor location; and, negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services- except in public places that are in or are next to specific locations designed for use by children, i.e., school grounds, playgrounds and day care centres. With this approach, individuals selling sexual services, will be more likely to report problems,without fear of facing criminal charges for selling sexual services or communicating for that purpose.

The new legislation clarifies that sellers of their own sexual services have the same ability to conduct their own personal affairs as anyone else. The material benefit offence does not apply to persons who have entered into legitimate living arrangements with sellers of sexual services, such as spouses or roommates. Persons such as pharmacists, accountants or firms and individuals that offer security services are also exempt from the financial or material benefit offence, provided that there is no exploitation.

Other Amendments to the Criminal Code

To protect potential victims of sexual assault and assault, the law also clarifies that it is an offence to possess weapons of restraint with the intent to commit an offence. The definition of "weapon" in the Criminal Code has been amended to include anything used or intended to be used to restrain a person against their will (e.g. handcuffs, rope, duct tape). This provides greater protection to all potential victims of sexual assault and assault, including to sellers of sexual services, who are particularly vulnerable to violence and sexual assault.

Contact Information

  • Clarissa Lamb
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations Office
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207

    Jason Tamming
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Public Safety
    and Emergency Preparedness
    613-991-2924 (FAX)

    Media Relations
    Public Safety Canada
    613-991-0657