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Sex workers demand immediate decriminalization of their work

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Tiohtià:ke (Montreal, Unceded Indigenous Territory, where we recognize the Kanien’kehà:ka Nation as custodian of the lands and waters), October 7, 2022 – , Sex workers and their allies responded today to the call of the Sex Work Autonomous Committee (SWAC) and rallied in front of the Palais de justice de Montréal to demand the immediate repeal of the Protection of Communities and  Exploited Persons Act. The rally took place as the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform’s constitutional challenge was wrapping up in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. According to SWAC activists, the current law has a deleterious impact on their lives. Instead, they are calling for the complete and immediate decriminalization of sex work in the colonized territories known as Canada.

 

Sex workers deserve rights too

“While sex workers and their allies have reminded the government of the urgent need to act over the past few years, the government continues to ignore its responsibilities to protect our safety and fundamental rights,” said Mélina May, a sex worker and SWAC activist. In response to this inaction, the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform launched a constitutional challenge in March 2021. Their arguments were heard during the week of October 3 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

“Sex workers have been saying for years that these laws are what make our work more dangerous,” explains Melina May. In 2013, in Bedford v. Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled several criminal offences related to sex work unconstitutional. Despite this, in 2014, the government passed the Protection of Communities and  Exploited Persons Act which openly aims to eradicate sex work. Since the adoption of this law, sex workers have been experiencing its harmful effects.

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A legitimate job

According to Adore Goldman, another SWAC activist, these policies that claim to protect victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking are ineffective: “Consenting sex workers and those who are trafficked are all affected by criminalization. These policies set the stage for more exploitation and stigmatization, not the other way around.” According to the committee, immigration laws, in addition to criminal provisions related to sex work, encourage increased surveillance of migrant workers who may face loss of status, detention and deportation.

 

“The decriminalization of our work would allow us to have access to labor rights, as is the case in other industries,” says the activist. This status of worker, according to the activist, would allow sex workers to benefit from adequate protections in case of accident and parental leave, but especially to hold employers responsible for the safety of workers in the workplace, and allow sex workers to organize among themselves. “We could denounce situations of harassment and abuse through the legal mechanisms in place,” says Melina May. The SWAC activists reiterate the urgency to decriminalize sex work. “We want to be heard and we want our experiences to be taken into account. We don’t want to wait years for the law to go to the Supreme Court. What we want is to finally be able to work with the means to ensure our safety in our workplaces, and for our rights to be recognized, and for that to happen, we have to start by decriminalizing sex work!”

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A look at how $10-a-day child-care plans have been rolling out across Canada

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Families in Nunavut are now paying an average of $10 a day for child care, the first jurisdiction to achieve the goal under a Canada-wide plan.

The federal government has signed agreements with every province and territory, aiming to reduce child-care fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of 2022 and to $10 a day by 2026.

Here is how the program is rolling out across the country.

Nunavut signed a $66-million agreement in January with plans to reach $10 a day by March 2024 and create 238 new spaces by the end of March 2026.

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But the territory is ahead of schedule, implementing $10-a-day as of Thursday. It has also created 30 new spaces.

Northwest Territories signed a $51-million agreement in December 2021 with plans to create 300 new child-care spaces and reach $10 a day by March 2026. The territory said fees have already decreased by an average of 50 per cent with families saving up to $530 a month per child.

It has also created 67 new spaces during the last fiscal year.

Yukon started its own universal child care program in April 2021 and reached the $10-a-day average before signing a nearly $42-million agreement in July 2021.

The territory aimed to create 110 new spaces within five years and said it has created 236 spaces since April 2021.

British Columbia was the first to sign on, inking a $3.2-billion deal in July 2021 with plans to create 30,000 new child-care spaces within five years and 40,000 within seven years.

B.C. started a $10-a-day program at select facilities in 2018 and plans to double those spaces to 12,500 this month. As of Nov. 1, there were more than 8,200.

The province said starting that Thursday, child-care fees will be 50 per cent less on average compared to 2019 at participating facilities due to expansion of the $10-a-day program and a fee-reduction initiative.

Alberta signed a nearly $3.8-billion deal in November 2021 with plans to create 42,500 spaces.

The province said as of September, it has created 9,500 spaces and, since January, child-care fees have dropped an average of 50 per cent.

Saskatchewan signed a nearly $1.1-billion deal with plans to create 28,000 new spaces.

As of Sept. 1, fees have been reduced an average of 70 per cent compared to March 2021 levels.

The province has created 3,402 new spaces, plus 1,166 child-care spaces in family and group family homes.

Manitoba signed a more than $1.2-billion deal in August 2021 with plans to create 23,000 new spaces by 2026 and 1,700 extended-hour spaces for evenings and weekends.

It aims to reach $10 a day by 2023.

Ontario was the last to sign on in March. It is to receive $10.2 billion over five years, plus $2.9 billion in 2026-27 with plans to create 86,000 new spaces.

The province said 33,000 new spaces have been created so far.

Quebec signed an agreement in August 2021 with the federal government committing to transfer nearly $6 billion over five years.

In 2021, parents with a subsidized, reduced contribution space paid $8.50 a day for childcare.

New Brunswick signed a $491-million deal in December 2021 to create 3,400 new spaces by the end of March 2026, including 500 by March 2023.

The province says fees were reduced by 50 per cent in June, and 401 spaces have been created since April 1.

Nova Scotia signed a $605-million agreement with plans to create 4,000 new spaces within two years and 9,500 by 2026.

By the end of this month, it said fees will be 50 per cent lower on average compared to 2019.

Prince Edward Island signed a $121.3-million deal with plans to create 452 spaces within two years and reach $10 a day by 2024. In January 2022, fees were reduced from $27 to $34 per day to an average of $25, then further dropped to $20 a day in October.

Newfoundland and Labrador signed a $347-million agreement to reduce fees from $25 a day in January 2021, to $15 a day in 2022, then $10 a day in 2023. It aims to create 5,895 spaces within five years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

— By Emily Blake in Yellowknife

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Canadian ‘father’ of evidence-based medicine wins Einstein Foundation award

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A Hamilton researcher has won an international prize worth about 280-thousand dollars for promoting quality in medical research.

In today’s announcement, jurors for the Berlin-based Einstein Foundation Award describe Dr. Gordon Guyatt as a pioneer of evidence-based medicine.

Guyatt, a professor of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University, developed protocols that help doctors incorporate high-quality, up-to-date research into their treatment decisions.

The annual Einstein Foundation Award recognizes people who have transformed the way medical research is done, leading to better care for patients.

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Guyatt has worked with the World Health Organization to create evidence-based guidelines on whether or not doctors should give COVID-19 patients an antiviral treatment called Paxlovid.

Guyatt says evidence-based medicine didn’t exist until his mentor, the late Dr. David Sackett, paved the way by founding Canada’s first clinical epidemiology program at McMaster University.

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How Canadians Can Travel Visa Free In Any EU Country

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The Canadian passport has gone from strength to strength. Currently presented as the eighth strongest passport to hold worldwide, it allows residents access to over 180 countries travelling visa-free. A large percentage of these countries are situated within the EU, where Canadians can stay for 90 days, sometimes more, without the need for a costly and time-delaying visa holding things up. There are plenty of opportunities within this scope to be taken advantage of for Canadian citizens, and this guide explores the best of the best and the reasons why.

Strong Global Relationships

The main consideration for this post is that Canada has built strong and stable relationships with many countries around the world. Its economy has gone from strength to strength, and it has been able to create amazing trade links globally. Canada is well-known as a trustworthy ally and has played a part in many major world negotiations, bringing relevant and reliable factors to the table. Canada has moved a long step away from being associated with British governance and has forged independence in many respects.

All About the Schengen Zone

The Schengen area comprises of 26 countries. It removes international borders through the creation of universal exit and entry stipulations for those wanting to visit for any purpose within a 90-day period. This is the main component that allows Canadian citizens to travel visa-free across these countries.

List of Countries in the Schengen Zone

  • Malta
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Austria
  • Norway
  • The Netherlands
  • France
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Iceland
  • Greece
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Luxembourg
  • Lithuania

The Requirements

So, what are the rules and regulations for border access in the Schengen zone? In short, there aren’t many. Canadians wishing to travel to this zone are required to get their passports stamped by the authorities on arrival. They can come and go over 180 days for any 90-day period. Aside from this, there are no more restrictions in place. Certain countries require visa-free travellers to report to the authorities when they arrive, but this is not true everywhere.

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Beyond the Schengen Zone

Outside of these countries, there are over 100 additional countries that Canadian travellers can visit without a visa. Inside of the EU, this includes the United Kingdom, where Canadian residents can enjoy up to six months of visa-free restrictions. This is why it has gained status as one of the top ten strongest passports in the world.

The Malta Example

The most obvious allure of visa-free travel is the opportunity to invest and make roots in an economically prosperous country. Real estate, for example, for international investors, has seen major lucrative returns in various countries worldwide. The example here focuses on Malta and everything that has to offer. If you are looking to invest and get residency in Malta, the process is even easier for Canadian residents who enjoy the benefits of visa-free head starts.

There are lots of reasons to invest in property here, from the strong economy to positive living standards and vast property options. It is also a stepping stone to permanent residency, should that be a route you wish to tread. Thanks to the 90-day visa-free sounding board, there is plenty of opportunity to lay down roots and even find permanent commerce ventures.

Benefits of Visa-Free Travel

There are a few benefits to visa-free travel worth noting. Aside from the investment door being held open, general convenience is also a factor.

No Fees

Visa fees can be a costly expense that eats away at your budget for actual travelling. There is not much you can do to get around these fees, and they must be paid to secure a visa for the country. Therefore, when you don’t need one, not only is it less expensive, but there is also a clear financial benefit as a direct result.

No Lengthy Delays

Visas for EU countries might have a quick turnaround, but this entirely depends on how well you fill in the forms and who is around to process them. It has been known to take weeks of administrative duties to fulfill the criteria. There is documentation to send back and forth, and official registrations to adhere to. The whole process is long, arduous, and not entirely intuitive.

Free Range Travel

If you fancy hopping from country to country at short notice, this is one of the main appeals of visa-free living. You can go wherever you like whenever you feel the itch. There are no barriers within the countries that acknowledge Canadian residents as having visa-free benefits.

Flexible Adventures

It also allows for a greater degree of flexibility as per your travel arrangements and in general. If you need to leave, for example, because of unexpected circumstances, your trip won’t be lost. You can return within the stipulated timeframe or even outside of it if you follow the rules.

No Hoops to Jump Through

The biggest benefit is that there are no hoops to jump through at the border control point either on arrival or exit.

Conclusion

Canadians have one of the strongest passports in the world. Ranking at number eight, they have a unique status globally in that nearly 200 countries allow Canadian citizens to visit and travel for extended periods visa-free. Canada has strong global ties, a favourable economy, exemplary educational opportunities, and a renowned healthcare system. It has long been a country of peace and its residents are enjoying the benefits of the strength of forged relationships.

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