Saint John groups await word on sex work exit fund

Some Saint John organizations are disappointed in the federal government's sex work exit fund.

Federal government's $20M fund is designed to help people get out of sex trade industry

Some Saint John organizations are disappointed in the federal government's sex work exit fund that was announced on Monday by Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

Saint John's Coverdale Centre for Women is one organization hoping to tap into a $20 million federal program to help get sex trade workers out of the industry. (Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters)
The federal justice minister said there are more groups than money available for the government's $20-million fund to help get sex workers out of the industry.

The Coverdale Centre For Women, Saint John Police Force and several other community organizations applied for the funding.

They outlined how they would work together to provide improved services including hiring a community outreach worker who would work with sex workers on the front lines.

Mary Saulnier-Taylor, the executive director of the Coverdale Centre, said she is concerned they won't receive enough money to accomplish their goals.

"Unfortunately, I think it will be in an increment that's not going to be substantial enough to really assist the women long term," she said.

"It may be a Band-Aid in a way just to put in some extra support for the sex trade workers … but for the long term, like over the five years, you really need at least five years in order to put everything in place."

Saulnier-Taylor said she is also concerned they won't receive any funding.

"I think it's a disappointment for our community because I feel that Saint John is going to be left out," she said.

"It's not one of the larger cities and our sex trade workers are going to have a continued barrier fro receiving proper services."

MacKay said the federal government will announce soon what groups will get funding.

The new federal program was created because of the government's Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which became law last year and makes it an offence to buy sexual services or communicate for that purpose.

It was created after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's prostitution laws.