Three sections of the Code which deal with prostitution related offences were recently considered by the Ontario Court of Appeal in R v Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186. The consequences of that section will have some direct impact on policing in this context.
First, section 213(1)(c) - which criminalizes communicating for the purpose of prostitution - was held to be constitutionally valid. That offence, therefore, remains unchanged. Policing and prosecution of the offence should continue as it has in the past.
Second, section 212(1)(j) - which criminalizes living on the avails of prostitution - was held to be constitutionally valid with a modification. The section will now read as follows (underlined portion new):
Everyone who lives wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person in circumstances of exploitation is guilty of an indictable offence...
The thrust of this change appears to be aimed at not criminalizing those who, in a business, fair and transparent manner, lives off the avails of prostitution. Assuming this is possible, it creates some difficult questions for policing and prosecution of this type of offence. Clearly traditional "pimps" will be seen as being exploitive, but what about those who run bawdy houses and pay the prostitutes. Will it depend on what percentage they pay, will it depend on what rules or regulations there are, will it depend on other "contractual" aspects between the prostitute and the employer?
Third, section 210 - which criminalized keeping a common bawdy house - has been struck down. Further, the term "prostitution" has been struck out of the definition of bawdy-house in section 197. This ruling, however, has been stayed for a period of 12 months.