Tougher enforcement set for Regina body rub parlours
REGINA -- Regina city council members moved forward on a plan that would see tougher enforcement for body rub establishments in the city.
In a divisive vote, executive committee voted 5-4 Wednesday to licence the establishments, a change that aims to enhance safety and limit criminal activity in the facilities.
The new rules require final approval from city council later this month before they become official.
“I do struggle supporting an industry that is illegal, and I stand by that statement, but on the other hand, I support the issue of licensing in this way,” said Mayor Michael Fougere, during the meeting.
Body rub establishments are facilities where sexual services can sometimes be provided.
The changes mean the parlours would only be allowed in heavy and light industrial zones in the city.
As well, the establishments would be required to obtain licences at a cost of $1,200 annually. They would go through criminal record checks, and staff and workers would have to partake in education sessions.
During the meeting, city staff said workers must attend education sessions yearly. They would learn about safety, sexual health and ways to identify human trafficking.
As well, they would learn about overdose awareness, programs that address sexual violence, and ways they can exit the industry.
After much debate, council members voted 6-4 to require workers to also obtain a licence.
There were concerns this requirement could force workers to work on the street, but those in favour said it will help the city ensure women are protected.
“This is vitally important,” said Coun. Lori Bresciani, who pushed for workers to be licenced. “We need to be very careful and we want to protect the workers so they are there at their own will. This will do that.”
Coun. Andrew Stevens voted against having workers licenced.
He said people who represent sex workers don’t want licensing.
“It’s against all the recommendations of those in the know,” Stevens said. “While I understand the fear of trafficking, this will do nothing of the sort.”
There are concerns the workers’ names won’t be protected from the public if they are licenced.
City council would need to lobby the provincial government to change privacy laws in order to protect the workers’ names.
Bresciani also proposed the owners and operators do a criminal record check every six months. The majority of council members voted down that proposal. Instead, criminal record checks would happen yearly.
If passed, the new rules mean there can be no locks on doors in body rub parlours. Workers must also have access to a panic button in massage rooms.
As well, two workers would be required to work in the building at all times.
Advertising and signage must include the licence number of the facility.
If owners and operators break rules, their licences can be revoked, and they could face steeper fines should they operate illegally. Individuals can be fined up to $10,000 and corporations could be slapped with up to $25,000.
Despite council members passing the rules, some councillors expressed concerns.
“In my mind we are OK with licensing the sex trade, and I’m not OK with that,” said Coun. Sharron Bryce.
Coun. Jason Mancinelli said the rules would be too onerous for body rub parlours, causing them to be ineffective.
HERE IS HOW COUNCIL MEMBERS VOTED
- Mayor Michael Fougere.
- Coun. Barbara Young.
- Coun. Bob Hawkins
- Coun. Andrew Stevens
- Coun. Mike O’Donnell.
- Coun. Lori Bresciani.
- Coun. John Findura.
- Coun. Sharron Bryce.
- Coun. Jason Mancinelli.