Tattoo parlour licence rules proposed

Toronto Health wants to license the city's spas and tattoo parlours.

Toronto Health wants to license the city's spas and tattoo parlours.

Health Canada provides what's called infection control guidelines and cities have to inspect all spas and tattoo parlours once a year. But outside of these annual inspections, it's a self-regulating industry and Toronto Public Health has decided that's not good enough.

Tattoo parlour patron Lee Pichette thinks adding licensing rules is a good idea.

"It's security," Pichette told CBC News. "To make sure that you're getting [tattoos] done professionally, it's not just someone off the street doing it to make an extra buck.

Currently in Toronto, only hairdressers and barber shops have to be licensed. Public Health believes licensing tattoo and piercing studios will help reduce the spread of diseases such as hepatitis.

Part of the problem is that health inspectors can currently only inspect known spa and tattoo parlour locations. 

"We aren't necessarily aware of them all," said Barbara Yaffe, director of communicable disease control for Toronto Public Health. "Sometimes we find out about them through a complaint, at which point it's late."

Shops would have to be registered

Under the proposed licensing rule, studios and parlours would have to be registered before they can open.

Owners would also be required to post the results of their inspections inside the store, as restaurants have to do now.

Proposed licensing rules are welcome news to Ian Nicolae, owner of Black Line studio, a tattoo parlour on King Street West.

"We've seen a lot of fly-by-night shops that open up for the busy season such as the summertime," he told CBC News.  "There should be some sort of regulation to filtrate the bad shops from the good."

Greg Taylor of Lucky 13 tattoos and piercings on Bloor Street said he's hopeful the new rules are not simply intended to fill the city's coffers.

"Are they doing it for a money grab? I hope not," said Greg Taylor. "I hope they care that they want to do this because I think most reputable shops want to do it."

Licensing costs have yet to be set, but Toronto Public Health told CBC News that licences will likely cost about $300 to start, then a few hundred dollars to renew every year.

The new rules will have to be debated at the Toronto Board of Health. That meeting is scheduled to happen on Tuesday.