The immigration law change announced Wednesday by Human Resources Minister Diane Finley and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is intended to keep foreign workers out of the sex trade in Canada.
Last year, Canada's conservative government issued just a dozen new one-year work visas to foreign exotic dancers, The Globe & Mail reported Thursday.
"The government cannot in good conscience continue to admit temporary foreign workers to work in businesses in sectors where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a risk of sexual exploitation," Kenney said in a speech in Calgary.
Finley said foreign temporary workers at strip clubs, escort services and massage parlors are at particularly high risk of being exploited and abused. A 2010 Royal Canadian Mounted Police report on human trafficking in Canada found Eastern European escort agencies in Montreal and Toronto were fronts for prostitution rings that lured women to Canada with a promise of a legitimate job.
The Toronto Star said strippers currently working in Canada can continue to work but their permits will not be renewed. An estimated 800 strippers in Canada have temporary work permits and an Immigration Canada spokesperson said 496 visas were issued to exotic dancers between 2006 and 2011.
"What happens to them now … has anyone thought about that," asked Adult Entertainment Association of Canada executive director Tim Lambrinos said Wednesday. He said the change would make life for the strippers more dangerous.
The Globe & Mail said Canada's strip-club industry plans to recruit international students to take the adult entertainment jobs when hundreds of dancers lose their right to work under the Temporary Foreign Worker program.