The Pandemic Impact on Sex work

intimate

Many sex workers across Canada have suffered through the last 12 months.

AM1150 News contacted someone in Kelowna's intimate industry who wished to remain anonymous.

She spoke about how COVID-19 has impacted her professional life.

"It's been hard just because last year was my first year in the industry and I did really well before COVID and then as soon as it hit, it got reduced to about a third of the income. As well, I used to travel for work and that was the majority of my income, being in different cities, and I obviously can't do that right now."

Intimate spas and escort agencies were shut down early in the pandemic.

Then reopened with suggested health measures in place that narrowly reduced the risk.

Rapid tests have not been made available to them so they have had to rely largely on the honesty of their clients.

Now the industry is pushing for early vaccination as a vulnerable population.

Our source doesn't believe that will happen due to how hard it already is to access existing vaccines related to sexual health.

"I recently discovered that my parents didn't vaccinate me for Hepatitis, like I should have been in Grade 6 and now it is extremely expensive as an adult to get that vaccination and sex workers don't count as a vulnerable population that should get it for free, even though we obviously should."

Additionally, many workers in the industry are frustrated about a lack of access to government assistance.

"The grey area in Canada's legality states that you're not allowed to make your sole income off of sex work. So that means that people who are doing that weren't claiming their taxes, which means they weren't eligible to get on CERB. [That] meant they had to work through the depth of the pandemic and put themselves at greater risk."

Our source works another job, files taxes and was able to claim government assistance.

She says decriminalization is the safest way forward.

"We need to revise the laws so that we can be claiming our income properly on our taxes and not having to stretch the truth or be afraid, so that we can function as a regular part of society and be eligible for the benefits we should receive as Canadian citizens."