Organisations in Canada, including NSWP members, have circulated a statement calling on Ontario to stop the expansion of policing powers and put an end to Bill 251.
Ontario’s Bill 251 is named the Combating Human Trafficking Act, but the statement explains that this law will do nothing to prevent human trafficking and will instead target the most marginalised.
“Bill 251 will only expand police powers to racially profile all residents while targeting sex workers. Because the law is framed as being about “protection” and “combating human trafficking” Bill 251 has thus far escaped scrutiny despite its dangerous and far-reaching consequences.
Bill 251 gives unchecked power to police and a new cadre of “inspectors” — including the ability to conduct sweeping surveillance with no oversight. This will put more Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, especially migrants, youth, women and sex workers at risk because it reinforces the conflation of sex work and human trafficking.
Bill 251 allows police to further criminalize sex workers and surveil and harass communities associated with sex work. In Ontario and across the country, people increasingly support the call to #DefundThePolice and #AbolishPolice, yet this bill does exactly the opposite, expanding the budget as well as the scope of policing. This bill is a step in the wrong direction and allows police, inspectors and social workers to target, surveil and forcibly detain us under the guise of claiming to “protect” and “rescue” us.”
The statement has been created by Black Legal Action Centre, Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network), HIV Legal Network, Maggie’s Toronto, Migrant Workers Alliance For Change (MWAC) and No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC).
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