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Hair care, red tape and trimming back regulations in 1980s Quebec

The Quebec government was getting ready to trim back its regulatory control of barbershops and hair salons, a move that wasn't popular with all who cut and styled hair in the province.

Province sought to deregulate industry, but not all hair professionals thought that was a good look

Hair care and red tape?

36 years ago
2:23
In June 1985, The National reports on some the red tape the hairdressers, stylists and barbers of Quebec dealt with. 2:23

The Quebec government was getting ready to trim back its regulatory control of barbershops and hair salons, a move that wasn't popular with all who cut and styled hair in the province.

"Sitting atop most everyone's head is the basis of a big industry and in Quebec, that industry is unlike anywhere else in Canada," the CBC's Tom Kennedy explained in a report that aired on The National on June 9, 1985.

"Here, those who curl, cut, colour, shave, shampoo — everyone who touches hair for money — is regulated by government."

But changes were coming, which meant those province-wide carers of hair would have to adjust.

Salaries still controlled

This hairstylist told The National that he and others in his field did not want to have people making decisions about their industry who did not work in that same field. (The National/CBC Archives)

"The government wants to abolish many of its regulations — men will be allowed to go to hairdressers, women to barbers if it's their wish," said Kennedy.

"There will be fewer controls on job definitions, like who can give shaves and who can't."

Quebec's government was looking at deregulation many aspects of the province's hair-care industry in 1985. (The National/CBC Archives)

However, Kennedy said the government would retain control over setting the salaries of these positions.

From what he reported, there was no general consensus on what should be done to the existing regulations, even if it was believed deregulation was going to occur.

Deregulation dissenters

Montreal barber Alex Imbriglio, seen working at his Montreal shop in 1985, was not supportive of seeing the province deregulate his industry. (The National/CBC Archives)

Kennedy said barbers, like Alex Imbrilgio, feared they could "be victims" of the forthcoming "unisex salon."

Imbriglio, a barber with 28 years of experience in that field, predicted some people would walk away from the industry.

"The good barber is going to retire," said the veteran haircutter, who showed off his skills for the camera.

The National reported that a protest was scheduled to take place at Quebec's National Assembly the following day.

The Montreal Gazette later reported that the provincial legislature's grounds "were strewn with placards and cut hair," as a result of the protest, which drew about 125 participants.

The CBC's Tom Kennedy said there was no apparent consensus in Quebec's hairdressing industry as to how the provincial government should proceed with its deregulation plans in 1985. (The National/CBC Archives)

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