The exchange of sexual services for money or goods has taken place in one form or another since the dawn of time and will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
Public Health works within this context and acknowledges the real life situation involved in sex work. The goal of a Public Health approach is to make sex work safe for both the sex worker and client. In response to the ongoing debate regarding sex work, CPHA developed a position statement on sex work in Canada that addresses the issue from a public health perspective.
“Existing prostitution laws should be replaced by a framework of public health and business law that supports the social and occupational health and safety concerns related to sex work,” the paper reads.
“A framework of public health and business law would create the conditions that enable sex workers to access necessary health services and sexual health education initiatives to promote safer sex practices.
“In addition, such a framework would enable sex workers to have increased control over sexual exchanges, decrease sexual exploitation and violence, and reduce the risk of disease transmission.”
Canada’s new prostitution laws, which make it illegal to buy sex or advertise sex work in most places, were created after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the old legislation.
During lengthy public hearings into the new bill, some sex workers argued it would help protect vulnerable women and children from exploitation, while others said it would put sex workers at risk by forcing them to ply their trade on the streets and in secret.
The government also announced $20 million over five years to help prostitutes leave the sex trade.
But the Canadian Public Health Association says if the government really wants to help sex workers, it will regulate the trade, while also offering housing and health care that would “reduce the likelihood of entry into sex work.”