TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontario will follow the rules of the new federal prostitution law, even though she’s worried it may violate the Constitution and put sex workers at greater risk.
Wynne says she doesn’t believe governments should pass laws that put sex workers at even more risk of harm, and she’s asked the attorney general to see if the new law is unconstitutional.
But the federal government says Kathleen Wynne had a year to voice her concerns about a new prostitution law before it took effect this month.
A spokesperson for Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the Ontario premier instead waited until the day after the law came into force.
A coalition of sex trade workers and their supporters called on Wynne not to enforce the law, which criminalizes paying for sex, communicating for sex or advertising sex services.
But when asked if Ontario would consider not prosecuting any prostitution charges that are laid by police, Wynne said she’d leave that to the judicial system.
Akio Maroon of Maggie’s Sex Workers Action Project says customers won’t give their names or phone numbers for verification purposes now that they can be charged with buying sex, making it hard for prostitutes to pre-screen clients.
She says that “spreads the welcoming mat for all sexual predators to feast on the lives of sex workers.”
Valerie Scott of Sex Professionals of Canada says the Harper government is mistaken if it thinks it can legislate an end to prostitution.