Thursday, November 17, 2011


"The only agency in Vancouver dedicated to helping women leave prostitution will be forced to close its doors this spring as a result of the “Wal-Martization” of the B.C. government’s employment programs, says the executive director of PEERS Vancouver."

There's your first paragraph from a Globe and Mail story by Robert Matas published on Tuesday morning.

The hideous gist is this.

The provincial government has created a template for how social service projects and agencies should operate.

This, of course, is madness, an impossibility. Maybe it looks good on a flow chart to some office-bound geeks, but it has no connection whatsoever to the real world.

PEERS gets women and men out of prostitution.

They've been doing this work successfully for ten years now.

Everyone else is trying to make "sex work" safe and acceptable. Everyone else wants to give sex trade workers legal brothels, brochures, and in the case, of former Mayor of Vancouver Sam Sullivan, drugs and pills to keep them happy. That flash of genius would have made Sam the city's biggest pimp. Lucky for him and us and the prositutes nothing came of his inspiration.

PEERS, for all its good work and low cost, is now toast.

But listen to the Minister of Callousness:

Stephanie Cadieux, B.C. Minister of Social Development, said she was not concerned about PEERS decision to close. If PEERS does not want to participate, another group will provide the services, she said.

“The focus of the [employment] program is to help people, and provide the support and services they need, including specialized needs, to get back into the workforce, and to do that as quickly as possible,” Ms. Cadieux said.

“For women who want to change what they are doing and get assistance from the government in doing that, that service will be provided,” she said, adding that the ministry will monitor the changes to ensure those who need the services will receive them.

This is the Minister of Social development???

She has no idea. Not one lonely clue.

Social service programs like PEERS do not spring full blown from the sand. They crawl out of the grass-roots where they are spawned and they grow and fall back, grow and fall back and then grow inch by labored inch through blood, sweat and tears. They take work and talk and community and heartbreak and joy.

This insistence from governments that social programs all fit the same tunic is idiocy and out of touch with reality. The further insistence that social service programs all have balanced budgets is an ironic farce. There is no government jurisdiction on earth that has a balanced budget. Every hamlet and mega-city in the USA and Canada is running massive annual deficits, forget Greece, Italy and Ottawa. So the Little Hen Day Care and Women's' Shelter should be running perfect books on a beggar's budget? Get serious.

Ms. Cadieux needs to get out more...or just get out.

Meanwhile, will some titan of industry please step up to the plate and fund PEERS.

I've worked over the years with hundreds of women who were renting out their body parts by the half-hour. Not one of them wanted this life. Not one wanted to stay in it. Most left.

If PEERS is doing that for our communities, they deserve a medal, not an order to conform or quit to satisfy some poo-bah's dream of getting all her pencils lined up in a row on her glass-covered mahogany desk.

And you thought the Occupy Movement was about tents...