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Escort pans proposed intercourse employee bylaw replace

A professional escort expects that a new city proposal aimed at making their work safer will instead involve unwanted surveillance.

“(The changes) are about control, monitoring. And the statutes invite police and statute officers into the lives of … sex workers, already stigmatized people, “said Amy, a member of the Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition, who did not want her surname released.

On Wednesday, the City Council’s Executive Committee will vote on an update to the Bylaws that includes proposed changes for escorts and body massage practitioners, as well as companies that employ them.

With final approval by the council, the changes would: reduce annual royalties for individual body massage practitioners and companions to $ 25 (down from $ 371); Conducting a mandatory briefing on police, health and social services resources; and add a new $ 25 registration fee for employees in those companies who are not licensed body massage practitioners or escorts. All changes would take effect on October 4th.

From the same date, personal care salons in the reception areas would have to have a functioning surveillance camera system and install panic alarms in all rooms used by personal care workers.

Amy believes the set of rules upholds the view that sex workers are at risk both themselves and others.

“We are put in this category of vulnerable but predatory people. We are victims and villains at the same time,” she said on Tuesday.

Unlike other companies, Winnipeg escort agencies and body rub salons can only get licenses in the downtown area, though city officials request a review of this rule.

Amy said she feared that even after the proposed changes, the city ordinance would not improve worker safety. She accused the city of not consulting affected workers to determine the exact steps needed to reduce the risks.

“I’m not saying the cameras don’t protect people. I say the people in these buildings should be consulted whether or not they are protecting the people, ”she said.

Last week city spokeswoman Joelle Schmidt said the changes had been designed with security in mind.

“Research and judicial practices have shown that video surveillance and alarms are a best practice and increase security for staff,” Schmidt said in a statement sent via email.

Amy said she was concerned that it would instead help monitor workers in these areas, as they would need to provide photos of themselves, as well as addresses and phone numbers, in order to obtain a license. Instead, she decides to work without a license.

She said workers’ safety is also at risk from existing rules requiring licensed body wash salon personnel to work in rooms with non-lockable doors.

“Who else can’t lock their door in a business environment? That should shock everyone … What if there was a robbery or something happened in the store and people wanted to lock their doors?”

The industry would be better served if the city only license business owners, not every single worker, Amy said.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
reporter

Joyanne was born and raised in Winnipeg and loves telling the stories of this city, especially when it comes to politics. Joyanne became the City Hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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