Research Materials


Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant: Contexts of vulnerabilities, resiliencies and care among people in the sex industry

This CIHR-funded research program focuses on reasons for variability in health and safety among one group of Canadians, sex workers, many of whom face elevated risks of violence and premature death.

Our team is made up of community partners, people who have had experience working in the sex industry, and academics and students from across Canada. Many of these people have worked for over two decades to raise public awareness about these issues. The purpose of a collaboration of this kind is to ensure our study reflects the experiences, and speaks to the interests of, as wide an audience as possible. This is to ensure the knowledge we produce is directly applicable to the people we are working with, and easily translated into practical change at different policy levels.

Together we are conducting a 360 degree study of the sex industry in six Canadian municipalities (Victoria, BC; Montreal, QC; Fort McMurray, AB; Calgary, AB; St. John’s, NL; and Kitchener-Waterloo, ON). The sites were carefully selected so that key comparisons could be made on the main determinants of health and safety of people involved in the Canadian sex industry. Using well-established social science methods, we selected respondents in a manner that represents as well as possible, the range of people and organizations involved in the industry. Our respondents include adults who sell sexual services (Project 2), spouses/intimate partners of sellers (Project 3), adults who pay for sexual services (Project 4), sex industry business managers (Project 5), and people involved with creating and enforcing laws and regulations affecting sellers, buyers, managers, and other third parties (Project 6).
Kevin Walby (University of Winnipeg) and I are leading Project (see the brief summary below).

Project 6: The Effects of Prostitution Law on Vulnerabilities, Resiliencies and Health

Project 6 examines how Canadian laws are implemented in the six cities chosen as research sites. It looks at how municipal police enact sections of the Criminal Code of Canada; how inspectors, licensing boards, and municiple councils attempt to regulate sex work, and the effect that can have on sex workers’ health, security and resiliency. It also investigates the role of outreach and service providers who often act as a liaison between regulatory agencies and sex workers.

To learn more about the other projects and our community partners visit:

Sex Trade Advocacy and Research STAR) - The Health and Well-Being of Sex Workers

Funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the National Network of Environmental and Women’s Health (NNEWH), the STAR project is in the midst of studying Canadian public policy and the health and well-being of sex workers. Along with principal investigator Jacqueline Lewis and co-investigator Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale at the University of Windsor, we have combined our efforts with those of community partners, including the Regional Municipality of Peel Health Department (Ontario), the Exotic Dancers’ Alliance of Ontario, Stella Montreal and the Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver. The overall goal of this study is to develop an understanding of the way public policies in the areas of health, social service, employment, policing, municipal regulations, federal law and immigration affect health, safety and well-being. The study uses occupations in the sex industry for this purpose because a wide diversity of levels and types of policies affect the lives of sex workers; a current and growing body of research and commentary is available on health and safety factors related to sex work; and there are community organizations with front line experience dealing with health and safety factors related to sex work. It is expected that the three-year project consisting of various methodologies through document searching and interviewing conducted by researchers, students, and members from our community partners, will develop methods to examine a wide range of public policies from the perspective of their impact on health, safety and well-being. It will also provide in-depth information on how various policies affect sex work and develop guidelines to maximize health, safety and well-being in the sex trade.

To learn more about the other projects and our community partners visit:

1. Articles and Chapters

  • Lewis, J., F.M. Shaver and E. Maticka-Tyndale (2013) Going ’round Again: The Persistence of Prostitution-Related Stigma. Pp. 198-208 in Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy, and Research on Sex Work in Canada, eds. Emily van der Meulen, Elya M. Durisin and Victoria Love. UBC Press.
  • Shaver, F.M. 2012. Sex Work and the Law: A Critical Analysis of Four Policy Approaches to Adult Prostitution. Pp. 190-216 in Thinking about Justice, eds. Kelly Gorkoff and Richard Jochelson. Fernwood Publishing.
  • Shaver, F.M.  2012. Legislative Approaches to Prostitution: A Critical Introduction. In Reading Sociology: Canadian Perspectives. Second Edition by the Canadian Sociology Association, Lorne Tepperman and Angela Kalyta. Oxford University Press.
  • Shaver, F.M., J. Lewis and E. Maticka-Tyndale. 2011. Rising to the Challenge: Addressing the Concerns of People Working in the Sex Industry. Canadian Review of Sociology 48(1), 47-64.
  • Lewis, J. and F.M. Shaver. 2011. The regulation of adult sex work and its impact on the safety, security and well-being of people working in the sex industry in Canada. In Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: Europe, Latin America, North America, and Global, eds. Rochelle L. Dalla, Lynda M. Baker, John DeFrain and Celia Williamson. Lanham MD: Lexington Books.
  • Benoit, Cecilia and Frances M. Shaver 2006. Co-Editors, Special Issue for the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology (CRSA). Casting a Critical Lens on the Sex Industry in Canada. 43 (3).
  • Benoit, Cecilia and Frances M. Shaver 2006. Critical Issues and New Directions in Sex Work Research. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 43 (3): 243-252.
  • Shaver, F.M. 2005. Sex Work Research: Methodological and Ethical Challenges. Journal of Interpersonal Violence XX (X), 2005:1-24.
  • Weinberg, Martin S., Frances M. Shaver and Colin J. Williams. 1999. Gendered Sex Work in the San Francisco Tenderloin. Archives of Sexual Behavior 28(6): 503-521.
  • Shaver, Frances M. and Trent Newmeyer. 1997 Hommes gais ou bisexuels et prostitutés: pratiques sexuelles et comportements B risque. Pp.175-190 in N. Chevalier, J. Otis, and M.-P. Desaulniers (eds) Sida et prévention. Montréal: Les Éditions logiques.
  • Shaver, F.M. 1996. Prostitution: On the dark side of the service industry. In T. Fleming (Ed.) Post Critical Criminology (pp. 42-55). Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice Hall.
  • Shaver, Frances M. 1994. The regulation of prostitution: avoiding the morality traps. Canadian Journal of Law and Society 9(1):123-146.
  • Shaver, F.M. 1993. Prostitution: A Female Crime? In E. Adelberg & C. Currie (Eds.) In Conflict with the Law: Women and the Canadian Justice System (pp. 153-173). Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers.
  • Shaver, Frances M. 1988. A Critique of the Feminist Charges Against Prostitu­tion. Atlantis 4(1):82-89.
  • Shaver, Frances M. 1986. The Feminist Defence of the Decriminalization of Prosti­tution. Resources for Feminist Research: A special issue on Women and Criminal Justice 14(4):38-39.
  • Shaver, F.M. 1985. Prostitution: A Critical Analysis of Three Policy Approaches. Canadian Public Policy XI (3): 493-503).

2. Reports and Policy Presentations

3. Conference Papers and Invited Presentations

  • Shaver, F.M., J. Bryans, & I. Bhola (2017) “SHAVER-etal-LSA-Mexico-4 Presentation-V03-NotesPages”. Presented at the Sex Work Collaborative Research Network Policies and Policing: Regulating Sex Work; Law and Society Association Annual Meeting. Mexico City, Sheraton Maia Isabel (June 20-23).
  • Shaver, F.M. (2013) “Myth Busting the Canadian Sex Industry.” Synergy Session sponsored by the Harris Centre, St. John’s, NL (August 9). [Includes video and notes]
  • Shaver, Frances M. (2011) “Sex Work (Prostitution) Policy: A Critical Analysis.” Presented at the British Society of Criminology Conference Annual Meeting, Northumbria University, Newcastle-on-Tyne (July 3-6). (Handouts; Tables; Resources).
  • Shaver, Frances M. and Jacqueline Lewis (2010) “The Canadian Regulation of Adult Sex Work: Its impact on the health, safety, and well-being of PWSI.” Presented at the Canadian Sociology Association Annual Meeting, Montreal (May 31-June 4).
  • Shaver, Frances M. and Jacqueline Lewis (2009) “The Canadian Regulation of Adult Sex Work: Its impact on the health, safety, and well-being of PWSI.” Presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Annual Congress, Sexual Literacy: Health and Rights in Cultural Context Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (November 5-8).
  • Shaver, Frances M. (2009) “The Criminal-toleration of Sex Work: Canadian Opportunities for Positive Action.” Presented at the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) Congress Sexual Health and Rights: A Global Challenge. Goteborg, Sweden (June 21-25).
  • Shaver, Frances M. (2009) “Legislative Approaches to Sex Work: Opportunities for Positive Action.” Presented at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality ER-MR Joint Regional Conference, The Business of Sex. St. Petersburg, Florida (June 5-7).
  • Shaver, Frances M. (2005) Risk and Risk management in sex work and hospital work. Presented at the World Congress of Sexology, Montreal (July 10-15).
  • Shaver, F.M. & M.S. Weinberg (2002) Gendered Sex Work: a Comparison of High Track Strolls in Montreal, Toronto, and San Francisco. Presented at the Annual Meeting of The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Montreal (November).


  • CIHR (Violence Gender and Health) LOI Team Grant on contexts of vulnerabilities, resiliencies and care among people in the sex industry. Named Principal Applicant: C. Benoit. I am a Co-Applicant on the project ($1,401,252 over 6 years). 2011-2016
  • CIHR Catalyst Grant Ethics (New Investigators and Mid-Career Investigators Transitioning into Ethics): Protection for all: Sex Industry, Health, and Human Rights. Applicants: C. Benoit & K. Shannon; Co-investigators:  F.M. Shaver, T. O’Doherty, C. Atchison, L. Casey, S. Davis ($50,000/year for two years). 2009-2011
  • SSHRC Strategic Research Grant. “Canadian Public Policy and the Health and Well-being of Sex Workers.” Principal Investigator, Jacqueline Lewis; Co-investigators: Frances M. Shaver and Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale ($352, 424). 1999-2002
  • National Network on Environment and Women’s Health (NNEWH), York University. “Canadian Public Policy and the Health and Well-being of Sex Workers: The Training and Hiring of Community Partner Members.” Principal Investigator, Frances M. Shaver ($15,000). 2000-2001
  • Glaxo Wellcome Inc. Teaching Grant. “AIDS/HIV: Cultural, Social, and Scientific Aspects of the Pandemic.” Principal Investigator Tom Waugh; Co-investigators: F.M. Shaver & Chantal Nadeau, Concordia ($60,000). 1996-2000





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