A woman working in the escort trade is speaking out in Winnipeg.

The woman, who did not want her name used, is the only one legally running an escort business in the city.

She said she pays thousands of dollars each year to work as a licensed escort with Amy and Annie’s Escorts.

 “For some people it may be a very distasteful type of business but it is a legalized business here in the city of Winnipeg and it should be treated as such. It shouldn't just be a free-for-all,” she said.

According to a city bylaw, anyone wanting to be an escort or own an agency must register, pay a fee and follow guidelines, including not suggesting any services that include sexual or nude entertainment.

In the YellowPages book and in online ads, however, a number of companies advertise those services.

CTV News contacted some of them at random, with each admitting they’re not licensed. One woman told CTV News she was starting nursing in the fall and wanted to make money beforehand. A friend introduced her to the unlicensed escort business.

The licensed escort who spoke to CTV News said she’s concerned.

“It could be your neighbour for all we know. It could be the girl next door. They don’t know the kind of individual that’s coming to their home. It’s not safe or fair for anybody,” said the woman.

No one from the city, including the chair of protection and community services, would comment, simply saying this is a police enforcement issue. When asked if the city had approached officers with concerns or the need for a crackdown, officials said no.

Winnipeg police said the vice unit is keeping watch on illegal escort activity on a daily basis.

Officers have handed out fines, but they said their focus is building relationships with women in the industry and making sure they’re of legal age and not trafficked or in the country illegally.

The licensed escort who spoke to CTV News said her agency is now having a hard time finding anyone to work, with so many others opening up shop without a licence.

She also worries about safety.

“Where are these girls who are allowing these individuals to come freely to wherever? No one knows – anything could happen,” she said.

She believes safety is better addressed by having establishments subject to licensing and regulations, and wants laws enforced.

"If we don’t hear from them after a certain amount of time we are able to say, ‘Where are you? Is everything OK?’” said the woman.

- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley