Massage parlours may be renamed 'body rub parlours'

Winnipeg city officials may slap a new label on massage parlours in order to prevent consumers from confusing the services those businesses offer with massage therapy from trained professionals.

Professional massage therapists' association welcomes proposed name change

Winnipeg massage therapists applaud a city proposal to rename massage parlours as 'body rub parlours' to avoid confusion with professional massage therapists. 1:25

Winnipeg city officials may slap a new label on massage parlours in order to prevent consumers from confusing the services those businesses offer with massage therapy from trained professionals.

A new report suggests renaming the licence granted to massage parlours to "body rub parlours." A city committee will consider the name change on Monday.

Businesses that offer massages from untrained staff can only operate in certain parts of the city's downtown. As well, they require a special licence.

While massage parlours are not licensed to offer sexual services, that's what happens inside those establishments, according to the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba.

"Massage parlours are sex trade places. We know that, the police know that, the city knows that," George Fraser, the association's executive director, told CBC News on Thursday.

Fraser, whose association represents most of Manitoba's professional massage therapists, said the proposed name change for massage parlours is a step in the right direction and comes after years of lobbying.

"When we first were involved in these discussions, we had suggested that they call it what it is — a sex trade parlour. But they have opted to call it something that is found in other parts of the country," he said.

"We wanted to get away from the title confusion, and they've done that. But I think the City of Winnipeg still has to address the issue of what actually happens on site in those places."

Debby Mackenzie of Academy Massage Therapy says she feels uncomfortable when people confuse her profession with massage parlour workers.

"It's horrific, it's so rude and offensive," said Mackenzie, who has studied physiology and anatomy at the college level.

"It's been a long time trying to widen the gap so people really understand that massage therapists are highly educated," she added.

A worker at a downtown massage parlour told CBC News she doesn't think the licence name change would hurt her business, as she considers herself to be an adult entertainer.

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