Edmonton’s body rub parlours safer with task force, report shows

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

In the last year and a half, a city task force has acted on more than 20 recommendations 

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

The task force started in fall 2016 and was given 26 recommendations to pursue, all of which are being done, the report says.

The priorities focus on safety, health and ensuring licenses are legitimate.

The team visits body rub parlours and speaks with owners and practitioners about living arrangements, personal safety, access to social services, education and health.

The task force also outlines options for practitioners looking to leave the industry.

The report says the task force has seen 99 percent compliance from 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 those 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 license 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.

Currently, there are 345 licenses for individual body rub practitioners.

Translation services

The information given out to body rub parlours are fully translated from English to Mandarin. Binders containing this 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.  

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

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