We have seen the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities. Each group comes with its own set of unique circumstances and barriers to basic health, social, and financial help.
As the Government of Canada rolled out emergency supports for individuals, small and medium sized businesses, students, seniors, arts, culture, sports and nonprofit sectors, it became evident that there were some groups so marginalized in our society that they went unserved and unnoticed.
One of the groups with no income, no access to resources, precariously housed and food insecure, who are forced at this time of pandemic to work in risky situations in order to survive, are workers in the sex trade. As a physician, I was well aware of the marginalization of this group, and as an MP I worked with them to improve access to health services and safety.
On Friday, I hosted a virtual roundtable with more than 20 individuals and organizations in BC and Canada representing sex workers. They shared, openly and frankly, their concerns and desperation. Most are not eligible for CERB, CEWS, grants and rent assistance. They face evictions, food insecurity, and poor access to public health services. They have families to feed and despite fears for their health and physical safety they are pushed even further to the margins in order to survive.
My office will be sending a detailed letter summarizing our conversation and the policy concerns brought to my attention.
I want to thank each person who took the time to share your concerns with me. I also want to acknowledge the limitations of a virtual call—it’s dependent on having reliable access to WiFi and therefore some may not have been able to participate. If you have more to share, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone my office at (604) 666-0135.
Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C.
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre