While sporadic attempts have been made over the years to chip away at aspects of prostitution law, the challenge is the first in two decades to aim for a broad sweep of its provisions. The women want the courts to strike down prohibitions against living off the avails of prostitution, communicating with potential clients and setting up brothels.
To succeed, the applicants must show that the laws amount to a “grossly disproportionate” infringement of the Charter right to life, liberty and security of the person.
Even in a narrow legal sense, this isn't an easy issue. I don't think justices at the Superior or Supreme Court level will see their way to throwing everything wide open by denying Parliament a role in regulating or restricting prostitution for many excellent reasons. However, the current legal status of prostitution in Canada is a strange one. It's legal to do except for the part where you communicate to make a deal. It's legal to live on the proceeds on your own sex work, but not of someone else's. While this rightly prohibits pimping, it also prevents sex workers from hiring security or renting a place to work in. It's a status that needs clarification and the country's politicians have yet to provide it.