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  • C. Williams (law student)

The New Sex Work Laws may be Harmful, but are they Constitutional?

The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA)1 is the federal government’s new legislation surrounding sex work in Canada. The legislation is Parliament’s response to Bedford where the Supreme Court of Canada declared three sex work-related provision of the Criminal Code unconstitutional, broadly, on the basis that their negative impact on sex workers’ security disproportionately outweighed the laws’ objective of abating nuisance. The purpose of the new sex work laws has changed from abating nuisance to a more targeted purpose of protecting human dignity by deterring and denouncing prostitution.1 Since the laws came into force in 2014, there has been an outcry from the general public about the harm they will cause to sex workers. However, surprisingly, there has been little academic response to whether or not the laws would withstand a constitutional challenge. In every corner of the internet you can find opinion pieces about how the new laws are actually more harmful to sex workers, but the question still remains: are the new laws constitutional?

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