New Prostitution Laws Soon in Effect

Bill C-36 was given Royal Assent recently and will become law by the beginning of December. Since the old laws against prostitution were struck down by the Supreme Court roughly a year ago, the Canadian government has been quickly drafting a new bill to replace it.  I attempt to summarize the changes below. 

Criminalization of Purchasers of Sex

The changes from the old regime are significant. Chief amongst which is the criminalization of purchasers of sex. Anyone caught purchasing sex face tough minimum punishments - a $500 fine for a first offence, and potential for jail time (it is a "super summary offence", so even at the lowest level the potential jail time is 18 months). Repeat offenders or those who are found purchasing in a "public place" face multipliers on the  fine amounts and potential for jail time. 

Criminalization of "Living Off Avails" from Sex Workers

Those who derive "material benefit" from sex workers are also criminalized - with significant exceptions. You are presumed to be getting a material benefit from someone who provides sexual services if you share living arrangements with them or are in their "habitual company". That means if you are so accused, you must prove that you are not benefiting from their sale of sexual service / you fall into one of the exceptions (e.g. that you are a paying roommate). 

Criminalization of Advertisements for Sexual Services

If you advertise sex services for another person, then you will face a possible prison term (max 5 years). The advertisement for sexual service has to be "knowingly" done, so I would imagine that user-content derived sites like Craigslist or Kijiji will still be immune. As would a self created and self promoted website. 

In all, it seems that as an individual sex worker, you are permitted to advertise your own services and not be labeled a criminal while doing so. However, the new provision makes it difficult to do so in groups or in known safe environments without running afoul of the living off avails or advertisement provisions. Ultimately, It'll be both up to the various police agencies around the country and the courts to determine how these new laws will work in practice.