Sex workers facing increased safety risks


Jade is going into a client meeting alone. She does not have a lone worker monitoring device and knows very little about the client. These meetings often occur after hours and out of public view. Like many jobs, she is at risk for a variety of occupational health and safety issues, such as workplace violence, mental health problems and musculoskeletal disorders. But unlike other workers, Jade does not have health and safety legislation to protect her. In fact, there is currently legislati­­on in place that is exposing her to even more safety risks.

“It infringes on my right to safety and security… And the possibility of working with a network of people for both safety and camaraderie is near to impossible without breaking the criminal law,” says Jade. “I am disconnected from all the supports I previously had and the layers of security are gone.”

Jade is a 50-year-old sex worker who has been operating as an escort north of Toronto for 16 years. In December 2014, the Conservative government put the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) in place, which made it an offense under the Criminal Code to purchase sexual services, communicate for that purpose and receive material benefit from sex work.