More than half want prostitution legalized

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More than half want prostitution legalized

Majority disapprove of Bill C36

TORONTO January 6th, 2015 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1741 Canadians 18 years of age and older, more than half believe prostitution should be legal for sex trade workers and their clients (54%), and this is a slight increase over levels noted in June 2013, well before the tabling of Bill C36 (50%) and equal to levels noted in June 2014 when the Bill was being debated (54%). Just more than a third disagree prostitution should be legal (34% now, 34% in June 2014 and 36% in 2013). About one seventh don't have an opinion (13% now, 12% in 2014, 14% in 2013). Incidence of thinking prostitution should be illegal is highest among Gen X (45 to 54 - 39%), females (40%), the least wealthy (41%), in Alberta (44%), Conservatives (43%) and among mothers of children under 18 (40%).

More than half disapprove of Bill C36

More than half of Canadian voters disapprove of Bill C36 (52%) which would seek to criminalize prostitution, while just one quarter approve (27%). One fifth do not have an opinion (21%). Incidence of approving of the bill is highest among the wealthier ($80K to $100K - 33%), in Quebec (32%), among Conservatives (37%) and Francophones (33%). Incidence of disapproving of the bill is highest among males (57%), in Alberta (58%), Liberals (57%), New Democrats (60%) and the best educated (post grad - 56%). When we asked this question in June, 2014, while the Bill was being debated, very similar proportions disapproved (51%) and approved of it (34%). One seventh didn't have an opinion then (15%).

Majority approve of $20 million for sex workers to exit the trade

Close to 6-in-10 voters approve of the $20 million fund to encourage sex workers to leave the sex trade (58%), while just one third disapprove (32%). One tenth don't have an opinion (10%). Approving of this fund is characteristic of mid income groups ($60K to $80K - 65%), in Atlantic Canada (65%) and Alberta (65%), but not Quebec (52%), among Conservative voters (68%), but not among the least educated (52%) or Francophones (53%).

Most disagree $20 million is enough to help sex workers leave the sex trade

More than 4-in-10 disagree the sum of $20 million is adequate for the purpose of encouraging sex workers to leave the trade (43%), while fewer than a third (31%) think the sum adequate. As many as one quarter have not formed an opinion (26%). Thinking the sum is adequate is common to Gen X (45 to 54 - 35%), Atlantic Canada and Alberta (36% each), but not BC (28%), among Conservative voters (42%) and the least educated (35%).

One twentieth claim to have engaged a prostitute; one tenth won't answer

One twentieth of Canadian adults claim to have engaged the services of a prostitute (5%), and a further one tenth prefer not to answer, yet do not say no (10%). This implies as many as one seventh of Canadian adults have paid a sex worker for their services (15%). The remainder say they have not done so (85%). Explicit admission of engaging with a sex worker is common almost only to males (9%) rather than females (2%). Incidence of claimed sex worker engagement is highest among those in Atlantic Canada (8%), Alberta (9%), among Green Party voters (11%), Bloc voters (8%) and the least educated (7%). Of note, the oldest are particularly likely to decline to answer, rather than say no (16%). Curiously, incidence of engaging a prostitute has not changed at all since the last time we asked this question in June, 2014.

"Sex work is said to be the oldest profession, and the majority want its professionals to be allowed to practice in peace. It is interesting to note that Alberta, the most conservative province, is not in favour of legalizing prostitution, yet is also not in favour of any law to restrict it. That's the conundrum of the conservative; the urge to curtail behaviour not approved of coupled with a distaste for restrictive law. One thing that doesn't appear to change is the proportion who admit to hiring a sex worker. It is reasonable to assume those who do not say they haven't done so when given the chance to say no, have probably taken part as well," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.