Posts Tagged ‘employment’

QO Feedback: LGBTQ Worker Vulnerabilities

March 25th, 2013 Comments off

Queer Ontario has the opportunity to attend and send a written submission to a Ministry of Labour consultation on Integrated Health and Safety in Ontario as a partner with the Ontario Common Front (OCF). This is an important project for us because one of the Ministry’s priorities is to focus on vulnerable workers and individuals performing precarious work. Yet, to date, LGBTQ people have not been identified as a group susceptible to vulnerable and/or precarious work. Therefore, we would like to get your feedback with respect to what we should include in our written submission.
Share your stories, insights, suggestions, and recommendations with us, which we will  incorporate into our feedback on the Ministry of Labour’s “Integrated Health and Safety Strategy.” We will need your feedback by Monday, April 8, 2013 at 6:00 PM, to allow us time to prepare QO’s report.  You can submit your feedback to
We look forward to your input!
The Queer Ontario Steering Committee


Note: A few examples listed by OCF as vulnerable workers and/or individuals performing precarious work are:

  • young workers;
  • immigrants;
  • Aboriginal peoples;
  • older workers;
  • those new to their jobs or working for new businesses;
  • temporary foreign and seasonal workers;
  • workers holding multiple part-time, low-paying jobs;
  • workers involved in temporary employment;
  • women;
  • older/senior workers; or
  • injured or disabled workers.

The factors the OCF lists as contributing to worker vulnerability are:

  • individuals not knowing their rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
  • a lack of job or hazard-specific experience or training;
  • the fear of reprisal, including job-loss, for exercising their rights or raising occupational health and safety concerns;
  • the threat of deportation;
  • English not being first language;
  • workers being forced to work in the underground economy  i.e. no records being  “paid cash”;
  • workers being asked to do work they cannot physically or psychologically do because of a disability or injury; and
  • ‘sweat shop’ model or mentality.

Feel free to list any additional groups or factors in your feedback.

Queer Ontario Policy Statement on Sex Work

December 17th, 2011 Comments off

In recognition of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (December 17), Queer Ontario has released the following policy statement:

Queer Ontario

Policy Statement on Sex Work

December 16, 2011


On September 28, 2010, Ontario Superior Court Justice Himel struck down three important sections in Canada’s Criminal Code regulating prostitution. This decision effectively decriminalizes consensual adult sex work in Ontario. These sections include prohibitions against keeping a common bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution, and communicating for the purposes of engaging in prostitution. However, in a December 12, 2010 decision, Justice Rosenberg of the Ontario Court of Appeal stayed Justice Himel’s decision, thus continuing the legal enforcement anti-sex work laws. The stay will remain in place until the Ontario Court of Appeal renders its decision sometime in 2012.

A note about terminology: Queer Ontario follows the sex worker activist communities’ usage in denoting the exchange of erotic services for money as ‘sex work’ highlighting its description as a form of labour. ‘Sex work’ commonly denotes a wide range of sexual labour that may or may not include prostitution, such as stripping, phone sex, porn modeling, Internet sex and live-stream nude modeling/acting. The use of the term ‘prostitution’, generally deemed pejorative today, refers largely to legal definitions of the exchange of sexual acts for money.

Why Does Queer Ontario Support Sex Worker Rights?

We would like the public to consider sex workers’ rights and social, legal, political and economic justice for sex workers, as follows:

1.   Queer Ontario supports Justice Himel’s legal decision and the perspectives put forward by sex worker rights’ advocates. They argued that the laws regulating aspects of sex work are contrary to fundamental principles of liberty and security of the person, producing unsafe working conditions for sex workers.

2.   Queer Ontario advocates for the decriminalization of sex work, and for the right for sex workers to organize and conduct their business under the legal rights and obligations of any other legitimate business enterprise. Calls to “legalize” sex work or prostitution often place sex workers under onerous regulations by government authorities, raising questions about whose interests are being prioritized.

3.  Queer Ontario accords dignity and respect to sex workers and their clients and opposes the considerable stigma and sex-negativity that surrounds sex work.

4.  Queer Ontario opposes attempts to demonize and criminalize the consumers of sex work services and supports safe, consensual and autonomous conditions for sex workers to conduct their business.

5.   Queer Ontario calls for an end to all forms of gender-based discrimination that affect people working in the sex trade.

6.   Queer Ontario supports policies, community-based efforts and social justice movements that work to alleviate and eliminate all forms of systemic oppression including class, racial, colonial, age, gender, sexuality and ableist forms of discrimination.

7.   Queer Ontario stands with the 20 organizations who have pulled out of the British Columbia’s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, complaining of  inadequate levels of funding available for the victims’ side. We urge the B.C. Attorney General to heed these complaints and to ensure appropriate funding, representation and equitable access to the Commission’s legal process for the victims’ families.

8.   All labour, including the sex trade, should be free from coercion and violence. Queer Ontario supports sex workers efforts to work autonomously, and to implement greater health and safety provisions for their work.

9.   Queer Ontario opposes any form of sex work that is the result of direct coercion or manipulation and for distinctions to be made between migrant sex work and the notion of “trafficking” in individuals for the sex trade. The use of “trafficking” prioritizes an overarching criminalization approach and serves to obscure how sex workers encounter labour conditions, poverty, and immigration/citizenship issues as the major barriers to their work and livelihood. Queer Ontario supports an expanded critical dialogue on legal and immigration issues that affect the lives of migrant and undocumented sex workers in Canada.

10.  Queer Ontario advocates for greater social and economic justice for youth working in the sex trade, and recognizes that they must become an active part of the decision- and policy-making process that affects their lives.

11.  Queer Ontario calls for the participation of sex workers in the development of public policies, community-based research initiatives and public education at all levels of government.

12.  Queer Ontario supports publicly funded services for sex workers whose marginalization is compounded by violence, poverty and addiction. Such programs, preferably staffed by sex workers themselves, should be guided by a philosophy of care that places the needs, voices and experiences of sex workers first and which encourages them to take control of their own lives as they see fit.

Prepared by: Robert Teixeira and members of Queer Ontario’s Research & Education Committee

Recommended Links: Organizations and Research


An organization in Toronto run for and by sex workers. Their mission is to assist sex workers in their efforts to live and work with safety and dignity. They are founded on the belief that in order to improve their circumstances, sex workers must control their lives and destinies.

SPOC: Sex Professionals of Canada

SPOC is a political and social group whose main objective is to work towards the decriminalization of sex work through political activism, community building, and public awareness.

Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist (POWER)

POWER is a non-profit, voluntary organization founded in 2008. Membership is open to individuals of all genders who self-identify as former or current sex workers.

Big Susie’s

Big Susie’s is a working group by and for sex workers in Hamilton and the surrounding areas.


A Montreal-based organization run for and by sex workers that links to community partners and public health researchers to promote health, safety and legal advocacy for sex workers.

John Lowman’s Research Page

John Lowman is a professor in the Simon Fraser University School of Criminology and is a recognized Canadian authority on prostitution.

Sex Trade Advocacy and Research (STAR)

Connecting community partners, researchers and students together to promote the health, safety and well-being of sex workers.

Commercial Sex Information Service (CSIS)

A clearinghouse of information related to laws, sexual health, commercial sex and culture.

Categories: Policy Tags: ,

The 2011 Queer Ontario Elections Report Card

September 15th, 2011 Comments off

.The four years since the 2007 provincial election in Ontario have been riddled with commendable advancements, broken promises, and reprehensible misactions from all three major parties. Many of these have had a direct effect on LGBTQ Ontarians, their families, and their communities, and the time has come to highlight some of these in advance of Election Day, on October 6th.

As with every provincial election, Queer Ontario has developed a Provincial Election Report Card to outline the Progressive Conservative, Liberal, and New Democratic actions and statements around pertinent issues that affect LGBTQ persons in Ontario. Our hope is that you vote in favour of human rights and unconditional support for LGBTQ persons, and consider the many ways in which LGBTQ Ontarians are still being marginalized and going under-recognized  throughout the province.

The Queer Ontario Steering Committee


1. As much as we would have liked to, the Green Party of Ontario was excluded from this edition of the Report Card because no Green Party candidates were elected in the 2007 provincial elections. This has prevented us from being able to document and analyze the party’s performance, as we have done for the other three major ones.

2. “LGBTQ” will be used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, intersex, two-spirited, queer, pansexual, polyamorous, and kinky individuals; and all other individuals who are marginalized for their sexual or gender differences.

3. Lastly, Queer Ontario is a non-partisan group. The information in this Report Card is informational and should not be read as an endorsement of any political party or candidate.