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Visa Rules Strangling Toronto’s Supply of Strippers

Toronto, Canada- The group representing strip club owners in Ontario is ready to hire a consultant to find loopholes in the rules because their supply of foreign exotic dancers has been cut off for three years.

“We’re looking for an above-board alternative pathway” to hire strippers and dancers, Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, said Friday. One route, he said, might be to use foreign student visas, since foreign students can now work for 20 hours a week in any job.

“The legal way is being ignored, so we need to get creative.”

The association board voted Thursday to create a short list of three consulting firms and will hire one of them this month.

The association, which represents 53 of the 140 strip clubs in Ontario, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada have been fighting since 2004, when then-minister Judy Sgro resigned after extending the visa of a Romanian exotic dancer who had worked on her election campaign. Until then, foreign strippers had had their visas fast-tracked to come to Canada. In 2004, foreign strippers got 423 work permits and extensions. By 2006, the number was down to 17.

Ottawa says that’s because they’re looking at each application one by one and visa officers abroad are under orders to screen out women they think might be victims of trafficking, don’t meet health criteria or don’t have a way home after their visas expire. Lambrinos says they’re discriminating against the industry and acting as if a bill toughening the screening of foreign strippers is law.

A year ago, Immigration Minister Diane Finley announced changes to the immigration act to “prevent situations where temporary workers in Canada, including strippers, may be abused, exploited or possibly become victims of human trafficking.” The changes still haven’t made it through the system and there’s some question about whether they need to if the new scrutiny is doing the same thing.

Up to 98 per cent of the women who apply overseas for visas get turned down, even after they pay their $150 to $500 application fee, Lambrinos said.


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