Edmonton's body rub parlours getting safer, report shows

The City of Edmonton says the body rub industry has become safer since a task force set up in 2016 has acted on 26 recommendations for change.

Task force set up in 2016 has seen 99-per-cent compliance from industry

The body rub centres task force went into action in fall 2016. (CBC)

The City of Edmonton says the body rub industry is safer than it was in 2016.

In the last year and a half, a city task force implementation team in place since the fall of 2016 has acted on 26 recommendations for change. 

An annual update released Thursday says the task force team has made "significant gains" in enhancing harm reduction and physical safety at body-rub centres.

The report says the task force has seen 99-per-cent compliance from industry.

The focus is on on safety and health and ensuring licences are legitimate.

The team visits body rub parlours, speaking with owners and practitioners about living arrangements, personal safety, access to social services, education and health. Team members also outline options for practitioners looking to leave the industry.

The team consists of two municipal enforcement officers and a community safety liaison. The community liaison visited 37 centres and interacted with 97 individual practitioners between May 1, 2017 and April 30 this year.

Half of the visits resulted in practitioners asking for follow-up or referrals to other services.

During the same period, municipal enforcement officers conducted 164 inspections on body rub parlours and had 377 interactions with individual practitioners.

The team inspects centres to make sure safety measures under the business licence bylaw are in place. Security cameras and alarm systems or panic buttons are required. One person in the centre must be in a "care and control" position and not providing service delivery.

Translation services

Information given out at body rub parlours is translated into Mandarin. Binders containing the information are available in all licensed body-rub centres.

The city is negotiating a contract for around-the-clock translation services for workers needing information or support in their own language.

Council has been exploring ways to make the industry safer, including eliminating fees to encourage more individual body rub practitioners to get licensed. Currently there are 345 licensed body-rub practitioners in Edmonton.

Council is set to review the task-force report at a committee meeting next week. 


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