Residential areas in Toronto could be sharing space with more body massage parlours if the current licensing cap on the establishments is removed.
Rudolf Czekalla, manager of policy and planning at the municipal licensing and standards office for the city of Toronto, said city staff met with parlour owners on Oct. 13 for a meeting about the possibility of removing the citywide cap on the number of licensed establishments.
“There are currently 25 parlours in Toronto that are licensed, but the number of unlicensed parlours is unknown,” said Czekalla.
Czekalla said the start-up fee for a body rub parlour is $11,539 and a similar license for a holistic centre is $237.
“The large gap in licensing costs has caused many body massage parlours to masquerade as holistic centres,” he said.
Czekalla said most holistic centres offer services like aromatherapy – but some offer more services that are not legal.
He said this might cause all holistic centres to be painted with the same brush, even though there are centres that are only providing legal services.
Dr. Doug Thomson, a criminology and policing professor, said one of the biggest issues with massage parlours is that the workers are often trafficked from the Far East and Europe.
“These women are brought over here, given a job and then their passport is taken so they have no way to leave – they are forced to work,” said Thomson.
Czekalla said city staff with be making a decision on how to move forward in early 2012.