Moving Forward

The research project seeks to advance our understanding of sex work and the matrix of factors that influence the health of sex workers in Canada.


  1. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors shaping the health and safety of people working in the Canadian sex industry. By “people working in the sex industry” we refer to persons who are 19 years or older who receive money for sex or explicitly sexual services.
  2. Share what we learn about sex workers with a broader Canadian public in order to dispel myths that marginalize sex workers.
  3. Change public policies that inadvertently place sex workers in a position of vulnerability to violence, stigma, and poorer physical and mental health.

Project design

What makes our study unique is that it considers the multiple factors that might impact the health and well-being of sex workers. Therefore:

  1. Our study is national in scope. We are conducting research in six cities located in five provinces. Doing this allows us to determine how the urban context and the policies implemented at municipal and provincial levels impact sex workers.
  2. While sex workers are the focus of our study, we are also interested in how the people closest to them may serve to protect or, in some cases, place them in a position of greater vulnerability. Therefore, our study consists of seven different sub-projects, each of which considers the issue of sex worker health and safety from a different perspective. Please explore the links in our diagram to look at how the relationships sex workers have with police and regulatory agencies, managers, clients, and their intimate partners, are of vital concern.
  3. While there are many assumptions made about who sex workers are and what they "look" like, the goal of our study is to be representative. We are seeking the participation of sex workers from different backgrounds.

The basic questions we are asking

  1. Why are some people working in the sex industry especially vulnerable to violence and poor health?
  2. Why do other sex workers enjoy relatively positive health and well-being?
  3. What are the factors that engender resiliency or an ability to persevere in the face of adversity among certain segments of the sex worker population?
  4. How can we better address the health disparities between sex workers and create safe and secure working environments?