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Meaghan McLeod

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Meaghan McLeod last won the day on September 8 2018

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  1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/cerb-sex-worker-access-1.5769650 Saskatchewan For Canadian sex workers, CERB was a lifeline — if they could get it Advocates say many in the sex industry, who work in a legal ‘grey area’, still do not file taxes out of fear Julia Peterson · CBC News · Posted: Oct 25, 2020 2:00 AM CT | Last Updated: 12 hours ago A 2016 Red Umbrella protest in Victoria called for changes to sex-work-related laws in Canada. During the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say sex workers' precarious legal status made it difficult for many to claim the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). (PEERS Victoria Resource Centre) As a sex worker, Melody Merlot started to worry about her livelihood even before COVID-19 arrived in Canada. Although the single mother of four lives in small-town Saskatchewan, her job had her regularly interacting with strangers, both from within Canada and from other parts of the world, and she did not want to risk bringing COVID-19 home to her children. Merlot — the name she uses for work, which CBC News agreed to use in this piece over concerns for her and her family's safety — decided to stop working in February, shortly before the provincial lockdown. "My last client … was a gentleman who was here from Iran," she said. "And it clicked that this guy was flying internationally, so now I'm in close contact with someone who was flying internationally. "And the day after that client, I decided that I wouldn't be seeing anyone anymore." Sex workers face challenges filing taxes Like many Canadians, Merlot's decision to mitigate risks and focus on her family's safety resulted in a steep loss of income. But because she pays taxes on her sex work income, she was eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and began claiming it in April. "I was really blessed and fortunate that I did not have to work as an escort through the pandemic," she said. "Having that extra two grand a month was really beneficial to help me not have to turn to survival sex work." It's a common misconception that Canadian sex workers cannot, or should not, file taxes on their income because their industry exists in what many consider to be a legal grey area, with fears over arrests and other reprisals despite prostitution itself no longer being illegal in the country. Current status of sex work laws in Canada The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (Bill C-36) criminalizes the purchasing of sex. But it is not illegal to sell sexual services in Canada. That said, the government has acknowledged "it is difficult to engage in prostitution without committing a criminal offence." It is illegal to financially benefit from the sale of someone else's sexual services or advertise someone else's sexual services. Under the act, sex workers are considered victims of sexual exploitation. The act, which went into effect in Dec. 2014, is due for its five-year review this year. "In fact, it's the opposite," explained Toronto-based tax lawyer and CPA David Rotfleisch. "They have to. They should, and they can get in trouble if they don't file their tax returns." The Canada Revenue Agency's policy is that even income from illegal activities is taxable. "Everybody, all Canadians, have to file taxes," said Rotfleisch. "Sex workers are not exceptional in that way. You have to file your taxes, I have to file my taxes, everyone has to contribute." Tax workshops for sex workers offered by Vancouver group But Merlot, who registered her work as a formal business after the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act came into force in 2014, said sex workers who want to file their taxes face a number of barriers. "A lot of sex workers don't realize that they can actually declare their income and write off their expenses and have a registered business and a GST number," she said. "And it's also really hard to find an accountant who is sex-worker-friendly and who will do your taxes appropriately and without judgment." CERB only available to those file a return This year, only those who were able to navigate the tax filing process had access to critical financial support. Valerie Scott, a Toronto-based sex worker and legal co-ordinator for advocacy group Sex Professionals of Canada, said the current legal status of Canadian sex workers makes it feel too risky for many in the industry to file taxes at all. "To be known as a sex worker, to file taxes as a sex worker, to have any information with the government in any form [is] exceedingly dangerous," she said. "There are so many ways we can get caught up. We're sitting ducks. A sex worker takes off her face mask at her home in Madrid in April, amid a national lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many sex workers felt they had to continue working during pandemic shutdowns, despite the risk to their health. (Oscar Del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images) "If you step to the right, you get arrested. If you step to the left, your children can be taken away. If you work at home, a neighbour with a grudge can call the snitch number. If you rent, they can inform your landlord, because you're allowing an illegal act to take place in your apartment." Privacy laws prohibit the CRA from sharing the information it collects, including with police, immigration or border agents. 'Twisting in the wind' Still, Scott believes the "grey area" legal status for sex workers and uncertainty about whether or not they should file taxes has forced many to choose between the risks of continuing to work or severe economic hardship during the pandemic. "I think Canada should decriminalize sex work, so even the sex workers working on the street who don't have bank accounts and have a chaotic lifestyle could qualify for help," Scott said. "[Instead], the government is leaving us twisting in the wind." Under Canadian law, it is legal to sell sexual services but illegal to buy sex. It's a grey area that makes some sex workers hesitant to file income tax returns. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press) A spokesperson for the federal justice minister said the government is examining whether the current sex work laws are meeting their objectives. "We continue to engage with individuals and groups affected by the former Bill C-36," Rachel Rappaport said. "We're also aware of the specific circumstances that they've shared with our government in light of the circumstances posed by the pandemic." I do this out of choice, and the CERB benefit allowed me to preserve the dignity of that choice.- Rowan Reid, sex worker She said the upcoming five-year review of prostitution laws will allow Parliament to "examine the full range of effects that this legislation has had since its coming into force." Rappaport said that to the best of her knowledge no parliamentary committee has begun the review process for the bill so far. 'I would have had to take great risks in order to survive' Rowan Reid, an Edmonton-based sex worker, worried about how she would cover her expenses after she decided to stop working in March. "It was nerve-racking, because CERB hadn't been conceived of at that point," she said. To pay rent and buy groceries in April, Reid relied on the Alberta government's one-time supplementary payment of $1,142 as well as a gift from a fellow sex worker in Toronto. Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say But as a taxpayer, she was relieved to find out more stable support was on its way when CERB was announced. "I do claim all my sex work income," she said. "I recommend all sex workers do it. I'm tired of the stereotypes that we don't." Without CERB, Reid said she would have had no choice but to keep working throughout the pandemic and might have had to compromise her standards for screening and interacting with potential clients. "I would have had to take great risks in order to survive," she said. "And it's nice to not feel pushed into being a sex worker. "I do this out of choice, and the CERB benefit allowed me to preserve the dignity of that choice, the dignity of autonomy, to not feel forced into sex work to make ends meet." Struggling without income Most of the sex workers Scott has spoken with through Sex Professionals of Canada were ineligible for CERB. This has had dire consequences for many in the industry. "We've received several calls from women crying because they've lost their apartments," she said. "They're terrified. They don't want to work during this pandemic, and they don't want to move into a shelter during a pandemic." Anne Margaret Deck, vice-chair of the board for sex workers' rights group Maggie's Toronto, said her organization has seen a similar situation unfolding. A downtown Toronto strip club is seen in September 2020. During the pandemic, some in the sex industry have been trying to transition to online work. (Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press) "Sex workers have informed us that since the beginning of the pandemic they have struggled to afford necessities, such as food, rent, medication and toiletries," she said. "Sex workers with dependents, with physical or mental disabilities, or with precarious housing or immigration status have experienced particular hardship." Marielle Hossack, a spokesperson for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, said the government is working on addressing the needs of vulnerable populations during this pandemic. "Our government has been providing special one-time payments to individuals eligible under existing programs, as well as investing in shelters, food banks, and community organizations," she said in an email. While some sex workers have moved to online work, that has become more difficult in recent years. "Many camming or chat platforms are increasingly hostile and unfair to sex workers, due in part to the SESTA/FOSTA legislation in the United States," Deck said. Intended to reduce sex trafficking, the 2018 laws make websites criminally responsible and legally liable for the content they host. Because of this, many websites that sex workers used to advertise their services, screen clients and warn others about bad or dangerous clients have been shut down worldwide. Working through the pandemic And it can be difficult for sex workers to find work in other industries. What I've found really surprising about this whole experience is that when you don't have to scramble to make ends meet, you can reset and go after the things you want.- Melody Merlot, sex worker "I have not heard of any sex workers transitioning from sex work to another industry during this pandemic," said Deck via email. "Transitioning from sex work to other kinds of employment (what is colloquially known in the sex work community as a 'vanilla' job) is difficult for sex workers to navigate even in 'normal' times for many reasons, negative stigma being one of the greatest." Pandemic forces shift in how Sage House helps women doing survival sex work Those who have continued to work in person throughout the pandemic, including Scott herself, say they are doing what they can for themselves, their clients and their contacts to mitigate the chances of contracting COVID-19, but it's an imperfect system. "Sex workers are pretty creative; we always have been," said Scott. "So when a client comes in, we keep track of every surface his hands have touched, and all the bedding and everything gets washed after each client. Some people are even wearing masks while they're having sex with each other. It's not terribly sexy, but it helps." CERB safety net is gone As CERB came to an end earlier this month, Reid went back to work. Although the case numbers in Alberta are increasing, she needs the income. Her final CERB payment will cover her rent and bills for October. "It's a little nerve-racking to know that the risk is increasing but there's no longer a safety net," she said. The rigorous screening requirements she has implemented for clients have not been well received across the board, so she is earning much less than usual and is worried about having to take even more risks this winter. AUDIO Sudbury, Ont., advocacy group offers financial relief to sex workers amid COVID-19 "It feels like I'm skating closer to the line of being a survival sex worker, which is a very uncomfortable feeling," she said. "It makes me feel like I don't have that choice — that autonomy — when what I love so much about sex work is that I'm in full control. I'm in control of who I see, I'm in control of my rate, I don't do a single bloody thing that I don't want to do." Merlot has not gone back to sex work. Instead, because of the other financial support she was able to access as a mature student and a single mother, she has been able to concentrate on her studies as a psychology major at the University of Saskatchewan. "I thank my lucky stars right now because just as CERB ended, my student funding came into play," she said. Looking back on what CERB meant for her and her family, Merlot wishes some kind of financial safety net could be available to more sex workers, and not just during times of crisis. "What I've found really surprising about this whole experience is that when you don't have to scramble to make ends meet, you can reset and go after the things you want." ABOUT THE AUTHOR Julia Peterson Julia Peterson is a Saskatoon-based journalist with CBC Saskatchewan. She has a passion for arts journalism, science reporting, and social justice movements. Story ideas? Email [email protected]
  2. Send a pm directly to mod (@lydiahardwood or any of the active mods) They cant delete a guest account.
  3. I actually agree that "training us to accept the notion of pointing a device that looks like a gun" is so wrong on so many levels. The pineal gland is important, and I have no interest in disrupting its function. I also have no interest in a "non-medically trained individual" using this device on me. I would allow on my elbow crease, but not on my forehead. The purpose of this screening is to see if the individual has a fever. A degree variation is not significant. Our temperatures vary throughout the day. A significant temperature is quite another thing. Am I a conspiracy therorist? Not really. However, I am appalled at ongoing changes we seem to be accepting without any real basis of understanding. Think back in time. Would you have allowed someone to point what looks like a gun at your head without going ummm? However, society is slowly moving towards changes that a decade would have been considered impossible. Hell, I have to have paperwork to cross my provincial border within my bubble province. They even ask what time of day I will be crossing. Are we moving in this direction? I'm a spiritualist, so I know my Angels are protecting me. I do worry about children who are being shown that this is normal. Sorry, don't point that at my pineal gland. I recommend you avoid it too.
  4. I haven't heard anything like this for indoor workers. However, if you are referring to outdoor workers, it's pretty common. If you are referring to underaged or those selling drugs, yes too. Specifically about COVID? Not that I've seen or heard.
  5. Feel free to pm me. I have experience with this type of situation. First of all, please make sure your friend gets medical attention. The longer the wait, the less opportunities there are to record in the event she chooses to proceed with LE involvement. A crime was committed against her. The use of drugs should have no bearing. Different districts offer either good LE help or really bad LE help. So I certainly understand the hesitation. The client is also an issue as he can now try to rebook through his friends which is a real issue. So recognise that she is still not safe if she continues working. There is no easy answer here. Please tell her I am sorry this happened. We need to warn others. Meaghan
  6. Fort mac is a dangerous city for independent and or travelling ladies. I've heard horror stories of ladies trying to work there if they want to remain independent or are from outside of the area.
  7. Safety is always the most important issue. So never try to deal with a potentially dangerous individual. One thing I might mention. If you ever have to involve law enforcement, they are on your side. Unless you live in the States (especially in Texas), the police will consider the client as breaking the law. I'm not saying it will go well if you call the police, however, if you call 911, and feel you are in danger, give your location and drop the phone (don't hang up). You then become a high priority and they will be there right away (if you are in a city not remote location). I would never recommend this unless you were in danger. I've dealt with police in the past, its not an easy thing, however, you are not breaking the law. I'd rather give the money back and be safe then be hurt, apt trashed or dead. Sorry this happened to you. For what it matters, he committed a crime or even sexual assault. Not everyone agrees, but that's my opinion.
  8. NB is now in phase 3. Which mean the vast majority of services are open "if social distancing measures can be followed." I highly doubt hobbyists are willing to wear PPE while in session. It kind of takes the fun out of the girlfriend experience. We know there will be a second wave (there has never been a pandemic that didn't have a second wave). Our numbers are the lowest in the country (121 confirmed cases), however the actual testing per capita is also the lowest (I think this is correct based on what I've read), so I actually suspect our numbers are much higher due to asymptomatic cases. For that reason, I'm out until we see how this progresses. I am not knocking those that choose to work/hobby. Everyone's comfort level is different. Due to my medical health, I just cant justify the risk to myself. I'm grateful I have other sources of income to get me through this. Stay safe everyone.
  9. This is what phase 3 looks like. https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/recovery.html#yellow Reopening of more businesses and activities after the ability to control transmission has been demonstrated. Subject to the Public Health and WorkSafeNB COVID-19 general guidance, the following activities are allowed: Family and friends bubble Gatherings with physical distancing of 50 or fewer Increase in elective surgeries and other non-emergency health care services Non-regulated health professionals/businesses Personal services businesses Swimming pools, saunas and waterparks Gyms, yoga and dance studios Rinks and indoor recreational facilities Pool halls and bowling alleys Low-contact team sports Other sectors to be determined More details on what is allowed during this level Family and friends bubble Your household bubble will be extended to all close friends and family that you would normally see on a regular basis. These will no longer be exclusive. Large gatherings beyond that circle would be discouraged. Gatherings with social distancing of 50 or fewer Public gatherings with social distancing of 50 or fewer are now allowed. This will make it possible for larger religious services, weddings and funerals to take place. The limit on gatherings will be reviewed on a regular basis according to risk based on the evolution of the situation in New Brunswick. Increase in elective surgeries and other non-emergency healthcare services Regional Health Authorities will increase service levels and occupancy within hospitals and clinics in the province. This will be done in a progressive manner to continue to ensure safety of patients and staff. Non-regulated health professionals/businesses Non-regulated health professionals will be allowed to resume in-person services if they can respect physical distancing measures, except when receiving services or brief exchanges where it cannot be avoided. They will be subject to the COVID-19 general guidance. Personal services businesses Personal service businesses (i.e. barbers, hair stylists, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurist, tattoo artists etc.) will be allowed to resume in-person services if they can respect physical distancing measures, except when receiving services or brief exchanges where it cannot be avoided. They will be subject to Public Health and WorkSafe NB general guidance. Swimming pools, saunas, waterparks Swimming pools, saunas, waterparks and other similar venues may open if they can respect physical distancing measures except for brief exchanges when they cannot be avoided. They will also be subject to the COVID-19 general guidance. Gyms, yoga, gymnastics, and dance studios Gyms, yoga, gymnastics, dance studios and other similar venues may open if they can respect physical distancing measures except for brief exchanges when they cannot be avoided. They will also be subject to the COVID-19 general guidance. Rinks and indoor recreation facilities Rinks, indoor recreation facilities (i.e. climbing walls, escape rooms) and other similar venues may open if they can respect physical distancing measures except for brief exchanges when they cannot be avoided. They will also be subject to the COVID-19 general guidance. Pool halls and bowling alleys Pool halls and bowling alleys may open if they can respect physical distancing measures and sanitization practices for their equipment. They will also be subject to the COVID-19 general guidance. Low-contact team sports Sports activities may operate as per the guidance provided to them by their national or provincial organization, as long as they identify means to limit the number and intensity of close contacts during play. All provincial, regional or local leagues shall maintain operational plans to ensure compliance with this guidance. They will also be subject to the COVID-19 general guidance. All reasonable attempts shall be made to respect physical distancing measures as much as possible except brief contacts on or off the field, arenas, gyms, rinks, etc. Youth leagues will ensure that spectators at games are limited to one accompanying adult per child. Other sectors to be determined The reopening of casinos, amusement centres, bingo halls, arcades and cinemas, bars (without seating), large live performance venues, large public gatherings (i.e. festivals), overnight camps will be determined at a later date when additional evidence is available on the continued success of the province in managing a resurgence of the virus.
  10. Lol. You can kick their balls, but you can't touch them.
  11. So, just to chime in. I wont be taking appointments. I personally feel the risks are too high for me. I'm not knocking anyone who chooses to open or continue, that is their choice. I was reading an article by the massage association about possible protocols. Masks and/or face shield, new clothing cover for each patient, no skin to skin contact (i.e. no hands only elbow) or gloves, 30 minutes in between patient to thoroughly disinfect area/practitioner. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nl-massage-therapists-covid-1.5565948?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar I'm trying to imagine how a provider (escort or MA), could implement safety protocols to keep herself and her clients safe. Unless I'm missing something, there isn't any way to return back to the way we saw clients pre-covid19. Somehow I doubt clients would be ok with a provider wearing PPE during an encounter. With no skin to skin contact. This industry is full of risks before covid. STD'S, STI'S, clients lying about their health status, providers lying about their health status, risky activities. Now the old risks are still there, but this new risk is so tricky to calculate, because it is a novel virus. Mutating, asymptomatic passing of virus. It has its own path of least resistance. If you want to pretend that because phase 3 is now open, somehow its now ok to open this industry, carefully think. We still wear masks, stay 2 meters away from others if wearing a mask is not feasible, wash hand frequently, don't touch our face etc. Why would anyone now say "phase 3 is open, so now we can contact our favorite provider"? I don't know, it puts pressure on those that have no option but to start seeing clients again. Hoping and praying they don't get sick or pass it onto their family. For me, its a hard no until I see the results of what happens to others. I don't like the idea of watching others be guinea pigs in a situation where we really don't know the answers, we can only guess. Educated guesses. If we were to ask our doctors, I know what the answer would be. It would be no. Think everyone before you rush out to enjoy phase 3. If you choose to see a provider, please follow her protocols. If it means she will wear PPE and ask you too as well, then do this. Don't try to put her in a position to jeopardize her health. Stay safe everyone.
  12. Moncton has some great ladies. Unfortunately, doing what you did has earned you an award as a timewaster. I don't know who you have contacted, but I am pretty certain you will be required to pay a deposit for future encounters if you decide to contact them again. Do your research before making contact in the future. It will save you AND the ladies a big headache. One thing I would suggest is to reach out to others on this board for recommendations. It gives you a good baseline on where to start. Goodluck!
  13. I have reached out. I am verified independent on this site. Its not working. I am well aware of the current rules. Again thanks for your input. However, there seems to be a programming change that has effectively stopped us from advertising. Its not a rule issue. Its a programming issue.
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