Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she has "grave concern" that new prostitution laws won't protect sex workers, even though they came into effect because the old laws weren't protecting them either.
On Sunday, the premier issued a statement about The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which came into effect over the weekend after months of debate in Ottawa.
Parliament was forced to enact new legislation after the Supreme Court ruled that prior prostitution laws were unconstitutional.
The government's new laws criminalize the purchase, but not the sale, of sex. The laws also target those who profit from the sale of sex.
The governing Conservatives say the legislation will make conditions safer for sex workers, but critics say these women will remain at risk.
Wynne weighed in on the new laws Sunday, saying that her "priority" in getting involved in the debate about the new legislation is to ensure that the laws will make lives of sex workers safer.
"I am not an expert, and I am not a lawyer, but as premier of this province, I am concerned that this legislation [now the law of the land] will not make sex workers safer," Wynne said.
While Wynne said Ontario's attorney general will uphold the legislation passed by Parliament, the premier also said she wants to know what the province's options are, if the constitutionality of that legislation is challenged.
"We must enforce duly enacted legislation, but I believe that we must also take steps to satisfy ourselves that, in doing so, we are upholding the constitution and the Charter," said Wynne.