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Newmarket launches licensing for alternative massage parlours

Town seeks more feedback as it implements new regulations
Newmarket municipal office 2022
Newmarket municipal office.

Newmarket has launched its application process for the licences it will require alternative massage businesses to get to continue operating.

The town announced Feb. 25 that applications are now open for its new business classification for personal wellness establishments. Council approved the classification June 2021 to regulate alternative massage services and address illicit ones suspected of having sex work or being human trafficking sites.

Town of Newmarket regulatory services manager Flynn Scott said they are working directly with establishments to help them through the process and many would receive their licence by the end of February.

“Our goal is to support these businesses through the recent regulatory changes and what we’ve heard is that they look forward to having a licence hanging in their business to show they meet the town standards,” Scott said in a news release.

The classification faced some criticism from Asian advocacy groups who said licensing would be discriminatory toward Asian massage workers — both for those doing sex work and those not. The rules require businesses to show proof that workers have post-secondary accreditation or other evidence of alternative training.

“We heard many perspectives through the process,” Mayor John Taylor said. “Ultimately, council approved the new bylaw in an effort to support our accredited alternative massage businesses and do what’s in our power as a municipality to help address those operating outside the law.”

The town is seeking more feedback from stakeholders on the new regulations. You can share comments by contacting the town’s licensing division directly at 905-953-5300 ext. 2221 or licensing@newmarket.ca.

“Through the consultation process, we found our community of both patrons and business owners wanted to see a minimum standard of training for personal wellness attendants,” Scott said.

You can find more information on the bylaw review process at heynewmarket.ca/pwe. You can start an application at newmarket.ca/licensing.