Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City may drop 'massage' moniker

Therapists applaud move toward clarity

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It's only a proposal for a name change to a competing industry, but massage therapists are happy.

The City of Winnipeg is planning to tweak its bylaw, renaming massage parlours as body-rub parlours.

"This is something we've been pushing for a very, very long time," George Fraser, executive director of the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba, said.

Fraser said massage therapists have long been annoyed their work is often confused with massage parlours, adding it's hoped the name change will distinguish the two industries in the public's mind.

Massage therapists are trained professionals who apply massage techniques to treat soft-tissue and joint pain and disorders. The industry in Manitoba is going through the provincial process of becoming a self-regulated profession, as with doctors, dentists and lawyers.

Massage parlours are assumed to be operations where sexual acts are performed on customers. "It doesn't solve all the issues of the sex trade using massage as a front," Fraser said, adding it remains a policing issue.

A civic committee will consider a report Monday morning that proposes only changing the name of massage parlours while leaving the two industries untouched as far as the city is concerned.

Under the current regulations and the proposed changes, massage/body-rub parlours will be restricted to the downtown area and operators require special licensing from city hall to open for business -- regulations that do not apply to massage therapists.

Councillors originally requested the report in November 2011, but it was repeatedly delayed. Initially, the city wanted to create a new category for massage therapists, but the proposed name -- holistic medical establishments -- drew a strong backlash from therapists and medical professionals.

The report states several major Canadian communities dealt with the confusion between the two industries in the same manner: renaming massage parlours as body-rub parlours.

The report will likely be forwarded to the protection and community services committee to enact the necessary changes.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 28, 2013 A9

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