The Vice Unit investigates offences arising from indoor, outdoor and online prostitution, as well as incidents of human trafficking. The Vice Unit provides expertise in the apprehension of "at risk" children involved in prostitution using Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act (PSECA).
Is prostitution illegal?
In Canada there is no explicit prohibition against prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money or any other consideration). However, there are several offences associated with prostitution that are illegal.
Section 286.1 – Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration
Section 286.1 of the Criminal Code applies to purchasing or communicating in order to obtain sexual services. This provision criminalizes everyone in any place who purchases or communicates in order to obtain sexual services. This provision adds mandatory fines to all violations. Sanctions include mandatory minimum fines ranging from $500 to $4,000, and can include up to five years in jail. These new mandatory fines are higher for repeat offenders and for anyone who purchases sex in a place where a person under 18 could reasonably be found.
Section 286.2 – Material Benefit from Sexual Services
This provision continues to criminalize those who gain material benefits from sex work. This replaces the “living on the avails” provision that was struck down by the Supreme Court. This section does not apply to those in “legitimate living arrangements” or with “legal or moral obligations” to sex workers. It does apply to exploitative and abusive relationships, and to those in which a person supplies drugs or alcohol.
Section 286.4 – Advertising Sexual Services
This section bans the advertising of sexual services.
Section 286.5 - Immunity
This section states the those that materially benefit from or advertise their own sexual services are immune from prosecution under the sections listed above.
What is a common bawdy house?
The criminal code defines a "bawdy-house" as "a place that is kept or occupied, or resorted to by one or more persons, for the purpose of prostitution or the practice of acts of indecency."
Most bawdy houses consist of sparsely furnished rooms consisting of mattresses, condoms and lubricant.
Can the police seize my vehicle if I'm arrested for prostitution?
Yes, law enforcement agencies in Alberta have had the authority to seize vehicles from individuals charged with prostitution-related offences since 2006. Vehicles are usually held until the matter is concluded in court.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is often described as modern day slavery and involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of people for the purpose of exploitation through the use of force, coercion, fraud, deception or threats against the victim or someone they know.
In Canada, sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude are the most common offences that law enforcement agencies investigate.