Workers in the "world's oldest profession" have won a historic victory as the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's prostitution laws.
The landmark unanimous ruling Friday by the court's six men and three women on the court dealt with prostitution-related prohibitions against brothels, living "off the avails of prostitution" and street soliciting.
Canada's social landscape has changed since the laws were last upheld by the court in 1990, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said.
The issue is "not about whether prostitution should be legal or not," she added, but whether the laws are constitutional — and the judges concluded they are not.
The ruling upholds the case of sex-trade workers who are seeking safer working conditions.
The court has given the Canadian government one year to produce new legislation while the existing laws remain in effect.
The judges agreed with an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that said outlawing brothels exposes sex workers to added danger by forcing them onto the streets.
The Supreme Court appeared to acknowledge the case of Robert Pickton, convicted of killing prostitutes in British Columbia.
"A law that prevents street prostitutes from resorting to a safe haven such as grandma's house while a suspected serial killer prowls the streets, is a law that has lost sight of its purpose," the ruling said.
Low interest rates expected to continue
Canada's stable core inflation rate likely means historically low interest rates should continue for another two years or so, analysts believe.
The national inflation rate rose last month for the first time in four months by two-tenths of a point to 0.9 percent, but there were only modest increases in key areas such as food, energy and shelter.
The Bank of Canada has indicated that the lack of pressure on prices keeping the inflation rate well within its target of 2 percent means continued low-interest stimulus is needed to boost the economy.
News in brief
• The bombshell announcement that Canada Post will phase out door-to-door mail delivery in urban areas within five years will cut costs and help "keep pace with an evolving marketplace," said Deepak Chopra, president and ceo. Concerns of seniors and those with special needs in getting their mail from street group boxes will be given a "thoughtful and careful transition," he said. Single stamps for Canadian addresses will rise to $1, or 85 cents if bought in a booklet, from 63 cents in March.
• Some $3 million in customer deposits are in question as the company operating as Sears Home Services has gone into bankruptcy protection. SHS Services Management Inc. said it has liabilities of $17 million. The receivership has put 643 people across Canada out of work at the company that provides in-home repairs and services such as installing carpeting and roofing.
Facts and figures
Canada's dollar is at a three-year low at 93.69 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar is valued at $1.0673 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada's trendsetting interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate remains at 3 percent.
Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,456 points and the TSX Venture index 889 points.
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• There were fewer murders in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan last year as Statistics Canada said the 543 homicides across the country were the lowest since 1977. The number of murders dropped 55 from a year earlier, with shootings accounting for a third of all killings and 31 percent involved stabbings. Eighty-four percent of the victims were killed by an acquaintance or a family member.
• Freight trains are again moving through Lac-Megantic, Quebec, for the first time since an oil-tanker car derailment killed 47 people in July and devastated the downtown. Business owners say rail service is vital to the area but for now no dangerous substances will be transported. The tracks are still owned by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, which declared insolvency after the disaster.
Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]