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In February, City of Toronto staff are expected to report back to city council on the feasibility of increasing the number of licences granted to so-called body-rub parlours in Toronto.
Staff were also instructed to look into acquiring additional equipment and hiring more staff to oversee regulation and enforcement of the current bylaws. One option outlined by staff in December suggested allowing an additional 53 licences to offset the cost of regulation. The increase is intended to prevent illegal and unlicensed operations, often masquerading as holistic centres, from sprouting up in unsuspecting residential neighbourhoods. Body-rub parlour premises are zoned to industrial areas, away from schools, places of worship and prying eyes, whereas holistic centres may occupy residentially and commercially zoned neighbourhoods.
Post City found several holistic centres in midtown that appeared to advertise sexual or erotic services online. Councillor Joe Mihevc, of Ward 21, St. One client of a licensed parlour, who spoke to Post City, requesting anonymity, said everything about his experience was above board.
He said that the women working in the first parlour he attended were communicative and expectations were laid out clearly. His first visit was borne out of curiosity, but he has since attended different licensed and unlicensed parlours —— according to him, over 20 times. He said the number of fraudulent centres identified by the auditor general sounded low, and that the possible increase in licences granted to body-rub parlours is a sign of the times. Councillor Mihevc, who is also the chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said the increase would help further ensure that the women working in body-rub parlours do so in a safe and clean environment.
Jenn Clamen, of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, noted that the commodification of sex has existed for centuries and criminalizing it puts the workers at a disadvantage. Councillor James Pasternak of Ward 10, York Centre, has several licensed body-rub parlours in his riding and is against removing the cap.