After a debate stretching over a year and a half, Regina City Council decided to pass a resolution to legally license body rub parlours.
The 8-3 vote was made during a special council meeting that heard over 20 delegations voice their concerns about sexual exploitation and human trafficking related to the operation of these parlours.
Mayor Michael Fougere says he is glad to see that the discussion is finished, adding it was very extensive process.
“We’ve come down on the side of licensing both the operator/owner and the employees as well,” said Fougere. “And they’ll be located only in industrial areas, and they have some separation between schools and parks, so there’s a fair deal of separation there too. We made a decision that we’ll see what happens.”
Councillors reluctantly voted for licensing as part of an effort to protect workers and prevent the establishments from going underground.
Fougere says it wasn’t an easy decision.
“To not provide the licensing for them would mean that there would be the Wild West in terms of how we regulate these establishments, there’d be no protection for the women that work there, there’d be no way of determining who’s actually running these organizations, how safe is that?” said Fougere. “It’s really a hard decision to make, it’s not easy, both sides are very compelling, very strong.”
He adds that he hopes by forcing the establishments to move and exclusively operate in industrial areas, they will inevitably close.
Fougere says that no one in council wanted to make this decision, but restricting these businesses is the lesser of two evils.
“Clearly, Council’s mood, I would read it this way, they’re not really keen on having these establishments here at all because of the exploitation and the human trafficking, and all the things that will go with this, which are really unsavory and no one wants to see that,” said Fougere. “By restricting them to industrial areas, we’re saying we don’t want them at all.”
While the vote Wednesday wasn’t the official bylaw, Fougere said that vote will take place in either September or October.