NIAGARA FALLS, ONT.- A controversial ruling by Ontario's highest court could pave the way for brothels north of the border.
As Canada mulls the possibility of allowing businesses to operate brothels legally and with regulation- there are concerns that so openly allowing sex trade will have an impact that reaches across the border.
"My reaction is that they are taking a million steps backward," said Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Elizabeth Fildes, Program Coordinator of the Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance.
Fildes says she believes that regulated or un-regulated, prostitution victimizes women; and as one of the poorest cities in America, Buffalo has a population that is especially vulnerable.
Reporter Sarah Hopkins asked: Do you think we'll see an impact here in Western New York?
Fildes: Unfortunately I think we are. We're going to see men from our community going over to purchase sex, we're going to see women from our community being asked to come over, and get into this business.
Tim Lambrinos, Executive Director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, who is representing some of Canada's strip clubs, says bringing the industry out of the shadows will ultimately make it safer.
"There would be an enormous amount of regulations that would be put in place," said Lambrinos. "Number one is outreach and education for the workforce, there would have to be health checks for example."
He says the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada is not necessarily promoting the changes to the adult entertainment industry, but if they happen, strip clubs should be the ones running the brothels, rather than lesser-regulated businesses, like massage parlors.
"they places they're existing in now are mostly fly-by-might, and they are not in a position to regulate their workforce in any capacity," said Lambrinos.
But don't expect a red-light district:
"Canadians are not Europeans," said Lambrinos. "We couldn't go as far as Amsterdam, but we can find a way in between."
"What we could do, what we're suggesting is, have the clubs apply for an enhanced license, at a separate location in the club, upstairs or downstairs, with a separate workforce, separate set of rules, separate checks, ect.,and we would be able to monitor that activity."
Fildes disagrees that there is a way to fully monitor prostitution.
Reporter Sarah Hopkins asked: There are people that say if prostitution is legalized, then it makes it safer for the workers and everybody who's involved. What do you say to that?
Fildes: I say that's an absolute lie.
Prostitution itself is not illegal in Ontario. Instead, in the past, Parliament has enacted laws that indirectly restrict it by criminalize various related activities. As for where we could see it, Lambrinos says he spoke to some officials in Niagara Falls that have expressed interest in the idea of adding brothels to existing strip clubs.