Canada: A mecca for the Sex Trade?

By Author: admin | September 13, 2012

A client of mine is a pastor on a work permit in Canada. He arranged for his 40-something year old wife to enter Canada on a work permit as well. She obtained the work permit. It was an open work permit. Open work permits state, “any employer” under the section which names an employer (in contrast to other work permits which allow a worker to work only for one specifically-named employer). However there was an additional condition on that work permit that perplexed her. It stated:

“Not valid for employment in businesses related to the sex trade such as strip clubs, massage parlours or escort services;”

This apparently is a new standard condition on many open work permits, as enunciated by Canada’s Immigration Minister.

I’m not sure why the Minister needs to explicitly state that work permits do not permit one to work in the sex trade. I don’t recall Canada being a cesspool of sexual exploitation. I’ve never had a client who received an open work permit without such a condition and ask me “Can I work in the sex trade with this work permit?” Is the inclusion of this term some kind of government paternalism that often riles libertarians who believe that individuals have the good judgement to know better? I don’t think members of the public who receive services from sex trade workers are wont to verify that the purveyors have authorization to work in Canada. Queue a prurient joke about strippers accepting credit cards for “consulting work.”

What is also odd is that by explicitly singling out one sector of the economy (i.e. the sex trade), the inclusion of this clause on work visas may cause some people to think along the lines of “unless it is explicitly prohibited on my work permit, I guess I can do it”. By this reasoning, one may erroneously think, “I guess my open work permit allows me to work for a drug dealer since it doesn’t exclude this type of employer.”

This added layer of complexity can only increase processing times for work permits, due to the fact that officers must determine if “there are reasonable grounds to suspect a risk of sexual exploitation for some workers”. As a consequence, officers will have to use their discretion. This requirement to exercise discretion shall delay the processing of some work permits, and thus make Canada’s immigration system less responsive to Canada’s economic needs.

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