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Right Hon. We, the undersigned, are profoundly concerned that the Government of Canada is considering the introduction of new legislation to criminalize the purchasing of sex. The proposed legislation is not scientifically grounded and evidence strongly suggests that it would recreate the same social and health-related harms of current criminalization. A large body of scientific evidence from Canada, Sweden and Norway where clients and third parties are criminalized , and globally clearly demonstrates that criminal laws targeting the sex industry have overwhelmingly negative social, health, and human rights consequences to sex workers, including increased violence and abuse, stigma, HIV and inability to access critical social, health and legal protections.
These harms disproportionately impact marginalized sex workers including female, Indigenous and street-involved sex workers, who face the highest rates of violence and murder in our country.
Therefore, we call on the Government of Canada to join with global leaders, community, researchers and legal experts in rejecting criminalization regimes, including those that criminalize the purchase of sexual services, and instead support the decriminalization of sex work in Canada as scientifically-grounded and necessary to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers.
Below, we briefly outline our key concerns. Both peer review research and the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Report have shown that within criminalization environments, stigma and discrimination of sex workers are major barriers for sex workers to reporting violence and abuse to authorities and accessing other critical health and social supports both in Canada and globally  In the official evaluation of the ban on purchasing sex in Sweden, sex workers clearly reported that the law increased police scrutiny, stigma and discrimination, and deterred reporting to police.
Evidence has consistently shown that in order for sex workers and their clients to avoid police detection, sex workers have to work alone, in isolated areas and rush into vehicles before they have the opportunity to screen prospective clients or negotiate the terms of transactions, severely limiting their ability to avoid dangerous clients or refuse unwanted services e.