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Stripper shortage forces Ontario clubs to get creative

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Facing a shortage of foreign exotic dancers, a group representing 53 of Ontario's strip club owners is turning to immigration consultants to find a loophole in the rules governing foreign workers.

The Adult Entertainment Association of Canada is looking for alternative, legal, ways to hire foreign-born strippers and dancers. One way might be to use foreign student visas since foreign students can now work for 20 hours a week in any job, said the group's executive director Tim Labrinos.

In 2004, then-minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada Judy Sgro resigned after extending the visa of a Romanian exotic dancer who had worked for her election campaign.

In the wake of public outcry, immigration officials have been looking at each individual application 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.

This has led to a reduction in the number of work permits and extensions granted to foreign strippers from 423 in 2004 to just 17 in 2006.

Up to 98 per cent of foreign exotic dancers who apply for visas get turned down, said Lambrinos.

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