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TORONTO, ON – Pursuing the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17, Ontario’s largest union is calling on the Harper government to repeal its dangerous new law, ironically named the “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.”

“This new law will drive sex work underground and put sex workers in greater danger. The Prime Minister should fix his mistake and repeal the law. In the meantime, we are calling on Premier Wynne to instruct police not to enforce it,” said Hahn.

The Harper government introduced the law after the Supreme Court deemed existing laws unconstitutional because they increase harm to sex workers. But the new law re-introduces problems and criminalizes the purchase and advertising of sexual services, and limits the ability of sex workers to screen clients or assess potential risks. The preponderance of research on sex work clearly demonstrates that the criminal restrictions contained within the law will increase violence against sex workers.

“It took a decade of work and tragic violence to repeal the last flawed law. The Supreme Court decision in Bedford was absolutely clear: Criminalizing sex work is dangerous. This new law will make sex work more dangerous. It prevents sex workers from taking steps to protect themselves. It prevents them from negotiating and enforcing workplace health and safety standards and prevents redress from labour abuses and discrimination,” he said. “Sex workers deserve the same protection as all workers, including the right to earn an income without being criminalized, the right to a healthy and safe work environment, and the right to freely associate with other workers.”

CUPE Ontario has a strong tradition of fighting for workers’ rights in the workplace and in our communities. Precarious workforces need strong support and CUPE Ontario stands with sex worker groups in calling on the Harper government to repeal this regressive and dangerous law.

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications