A sex trade worker is pictured in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, June, 3, 2014. The study, published in a British online medical journal, found that even when Vancouver police targeted just the clients and pimps of prostitutes, sex workers suffered virtually the same rates of physical and sexual violence. Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press
Calgary's police chief says the Harper government's $20-million pledge to help sex workers get out of the industry is "woefully inadequate."
Chief Rick Hanson offered that assessment Tuesday during the second day of hearings by the House of Commons justice committee as it examines the government's new prostitution bill.
The government's five-year commitment amounts to $125,000 a year in Calgary, which is not enough, Hanson said.
He called for a national strategy in which Ottawa, the provinces, municipalities and social agencies would work towards abolishing prostitution.
"We have to look at the exit strategy," Hanson said.
On Monday, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the government hopes to see the new bill — which targets demand for sexual services by criminalizing pimps and johns — foster an end to prostitution entirely.
Manitoba also calling for bigger funding commitment
Though not part of the actual bill, the $20-million commitment is an additional government commitment to help women get out of the sex industry.
Manitoba Attorney General Andrew Swan testified Monday that he'd like to see a larger federal spending commitment, since his province already spends $8 million a year on the problem.
The funds fit the so-called Nordic model of several Scandinavian countries, which the Harper government's legislation appears designed to foster.
In addition to making it illegal to be a john or a pimp, the approach calls for social spending to help exploited women in the sex industry.
NDP justice critic Francoise Boivin said the government needs to spend more in that area.
"The Conservatives will spend more on the commercial" to advertise the bill than they will on helping prostitutes, she predicted.
"He (MacKay) wants to eradicate prostitution. But with $20 million I tend to take him not too seriously."
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the existing prostitution law last December and gave the government one year to respond with new legislation.
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