Dancing in a Dangerous Time: Canada’s Treatment of Foreign Strippers

On 13 March 2012, the Government of Canada saw the passage of Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act. Part 5 (clauses 205 to 208) of this Act introduced substantive changes to the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which gives immigration officers the authority to refuse applications for temporary resident permits under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Refusals must be consistent with instructions given by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, which in turn must be aimed at protecting foreign nationals from exploitation.

Previously, migrants wishing to work in Canada as exotic dancers could obtain status by applying for what was colloquially known as the ‘stripper visa.’ These temporary resident permits would allow an individual to enter the country for a specified period to work for (usually) a single employer. Now, with the passage of Bill C-10 on 4 July 2012, the Honourable Jason Kenney, former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, issued instructions for immigration officers to cease processing applications under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from people seeking employment in strip clubs and massage parlours, or as escorts. In announcing these instructions, Minister Kenney stated that these changes were meant to protect vulnerable foreign nationals (mainly women and children) from their exploitation in the Canadian sex industry.

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