Exotic Dancers and Sex Workers need not apply: No more Canadian work visas

As reported by CBC Immigration Minister Jason Kenny and Human Resources Minister Diane Finley have teamed up against foreign strippers and sex workers, making it policy to deny them postive Labor Market Opinions and Work Permits.  

This means exotic dancers need not apply if they are foreigners. And for those already in Canada on work visas, your time is running out. Your stay in Canada expires soon and better start packing.

Exotic dancers being issued work visas have been on the books for some time. Many have come to Canada in order to get a second shot or depending on from where they come, a first shot.  Life in their home countries offer little by way of education, career advancement and a future. Now I know what you are thinking: Working as a stripper in Canada is a better option for these women? What kind of future is that?

Well do the math. Working as a stripper allows them to save, go to school and yes eventually get out of the business  all together. These foreign workers do not usually see stripping as an end but as a means to something better. Do all of them make it? Probably not.  Maybe some do not want to get out of the business.  But it’s the opportunity that attracts these women.  And so for them Canada is (was) the land of opportunity.

But that was then. Now such applicants will have to look elsewhere for their dreams to come true. The government’s justification for ending the exotic dancer program  is that these women are vulnerable to being exploited. Fair enough. But who should be punished? The women? Or the employers? Is it Canada’s job to protect foreign workers by refusing them visas?

I think what is really behind the government initiative is political. The voting public, the government calculates, will support this move.  The voting right will agree that all forms of sex trade work is immoral and therefore should be banned. If the Charter of Rights makes it difficult to go after Canadian strippers, let’s “save” the foreigners and Canadians who buy such services by legislating them out of existence.

On the left, there are those who believe that working in the exotic entertainment industry is by definition exploitive; that if you work as a stripper, you are being abused, degraded and demeaned as a woman.

Members of both sides of the political fence are in agreement that a) these woman must be protected from some form of harm and b) it is the government’s job to protect them. and that c) the sex trade workers are by virtue of their occupation vulnerable such that preemptive  government intervention i.e., shutting them out of the visa process is a reasonable means of protection and is in the best interests of Canadians.

I am all for protecting workers, foreign or domestic, from abuse, mistreatment and exploitation. However,  equating sex trade work with abuse, as the government does, goes too far. Canada is supposed to be a democratic country. What comes with that is the freedom for people to choose alternative lifestyles, options and yes jobs. The premise of a free society is that citizens are grown ups, not children.

In other words, the state has no place in our bedrooms nor in our strip clubs.




Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

Tags: exotic dancers exotic dancers visas foreign stippers foreign strippers visas LMO applications exotic dancers refused work vias

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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