Sex workers will turn to unsafe practices because of changes made last week to the Criminal Code, a 24-year veteran of the Vancouver sex trade said yesterday.

Susan Davis said sex workers are safer in groups but the federal government now considers the keeping of a bawdy house — a brothel — with three or more workers a serious offence punishable by up to five years in jail.

“It feels like we’re taking 10 steps backwards,” Davis said.

“(This) throws a lot of confusion for people who were starting to feel safer, reporting and interacting with police.”

Joyce Arthur, an advocate for sex workers, said the government’s mandate should be to protect workers, no matter what their jobs are.