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Canadians are five times more likely to support than to oppose Canada's current prostitution legislation

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 10:23:00 AM

2020 Pan-Canadian Poll, a new national poll conducted by Nanos Research on behalf of the London Abused Women's Centre (LAWC), Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle (CLES) and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), in collaboration with Canadian organizations, reveals Canadians' views on legislative approaches to prostitution and other prostitution related issues (poll results, methodology and technical note attached).

With the Government of Canada's announcement that it will evaluate the impact of the 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), enacted to address prostitution in Canada, this first national poll researching prostitution will help ensure that the views of Canadians are represented in the evaluation; help inform the process; and help raise public awareness about Canada's current legislation.

The PCEPA addresses the system of prostitution by solely decriminalizing individuals who are bought and sold in prostitution, while holding accountable purchasers of sexual acts ("sex buyers"), promoters of prostitution (pimping) owners and managers of commercial sex establishments (e.g. brothels, illicit massage parlors, escort services), and other third-party exploiters.

The poll results are of interest to Canadians and the Government of Canada.

- 49% of Canadians support Canada's current prostitution legislation, which is almost five times more than those who are opposed (11%)
- 46% of Canadians are more likely to support the current legislation as their preferred approach to addressing prostitution. This number is almost twice as many as those supporting prostitution as a legal profession where there are no laws against prostitution, including pimps, brothel owner-operators, sex buyers, and those selling sex (24%), and almost three times more than those supporting prostitution being illegal and all those involved in selling sexual services being criminalized (16%)
- 61% of Canadians agree that the federal and provincial governments should provide appropriate funding to organizations working with women in prostitution to provide long-term counselling and support services, which is almost nine times more than those opposed (7%)
- 51% of Canadians disagree with approving of a family member to pay for sexual services, which is more than four times more than those who agree (12%)
- 43% of Canadians agree that if most women and people had viable economic alternatives, they would not choose to engage in prostitution. This is more than four times more than those who disagree (10%)
- When asked if prostitution should be viewed as a profession or job like any other profession or job, 34% of Canadians agreed and 26% disagreed. However, when asked to what extent Canadians support prostitution as a legal profession, with all activities around prostitution including sex purchasing, selling sexual services, pimping, trafficking and brothel ownership-operation being legal, 45% of Canadians were opposed which is more than twice as many as those who supported (17%).


In December 2014, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (also known as the Nordic or Equality Model) received Royal Assent and became law. The law does not criminalize women and people who are bought and sold in the sex trade. The law protects those who sell their own sexual services from criminal liability. The law mandates the government to provide services to prostituted and sex trafficked individuals, who are mostly women and girls, while prohibiting the purchase of sexual acts; owning or operating a brothel; pimping; and trafficking.

The most comprehensive overview of Ontarians' views of the legislative approach to prostitution was completed in 2018. The poll resulted in 58% of Ontarians opposing any changes to the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act that would decriminalize pimps, brothel owners and sex buying (

The Government of Canada intends to evaluate the success of the legislation, now five years since its passage, in protecting communities, helping survivors access services and holding sex purchasers and traffickers accountable.

This current poll was done to ensure that the views of Canadians are represented in the government's evaluation. Both the Ontario and national polls demonstrate that many more Canadians are supportive of Canada's current prostitution legislation and would not endorse the legalization or full decriminalization of prostitution.

SOURCE: London Abused Women's Centre