Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Jenna Hennebry

Advisor Role



Canada’s immigration regulations and policy instructions, collectively known as ‘Protecting Workers from Abuse and Exploitation’ (PWAE), instruct visa officials not to process temporary work permits when there is suspicion that migrants may be at risk of sexual abuse or exploitation in industries related to sex work. The regulations are part of Canada’s temporary foreign worker program, located within an anti-trafficking initiative.

Stretching across disciplines and focusing on critical migration scholarship, this research uses a communications studies lens to unpack the power of categorization, and the dividing practices that produce, maintain and normalize inclusion and exclusion, through the conceptualization of the nation. Anchored in the theories of Foucauldian governmentality and feminist intersectionality, this thesis employs a feminist critical discourse analysis to unpack the text of the regulations, informed by semi-structured interviews with immigration officials and a migrant sex work advocate. Additionally, administrative data obtained by special request are examined to analyze the criteria that inform migrant refusals and the trends over time. The analyses reveal how PWAE is interpreted and applied, and explores what the consequences are for the populations most effected –women migrant workers.

The results of the research demonstrate that PWAE advances a governing strategy that prioritises surveillance of the sex industries, increases migration controls and immigration enforcement. PWAE provides the Canadian state with the legal grounds to exclude undesirable women migrants from the Canadian community, discipline migrant actions and choices, police their presence in Canada and detain and deport them with ease. This securitization agenda exacerbates precarious working and living conditions for migrants in the Canadian sex industries and curtails mobility of women migrant workers, while allowing the Canadian state to maintain a benevolent and positive image as the protectors of Canadian population and of ‘vulnerable foreign workers’.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season