Toronto to inspect tattoo, hair and nail salons

Gaye Boucher, owner of Mar-Ville Salon, saw city inspections coming.
Gaye Boucher, owner of Mar-Ville Salon, saw city inspections coming. (Tarah Bleier)

A salon owner in west Toronto is not at all surprised the city is clamping down on tattoo parlours with closer scrutiny.

Last week, city council voted in favour of Municipal Code 545 to license all businesses operating as personal service operations, including tattoo parlours and hair salons.

It means that a licensing system (much like the Dine Safe program) will inspect the businesses and post results online. Businesses will also display a card in their store windows with details of inspections. Gaye Boucher, owner of Mar-Ville Salon on Marlee Avenue saw inspections coming.

“There’s one (spa near me that doesn’t) properly sanitize their tools,” Boucher said. “You can also tell they reuse the same items on all of their customers … They definitely won’t get a green card.”

Dating back to November 2012, officials from the Toronto Board of Health and the Licensing and Standards Committee responded to complaints by residents citing unsanitary conditions, improper cleaning and reuse of single use items. Rishma Govani, manager of media relations for Toronto Public Health responded in an email.

“(The inspections are designed) to improve and strengthen consumer health and safety. We know that the delivery of personal service has been associated with transmission of blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases, when proper infection control is not maintained,” Govani said.

The inspections will affect nearly 3,000 establishments across the city, including tattoo parlors, hair salons, nail salons and even acupuncturists.

Health inspections will not cost the businesses, but they will be charged a one-time initial license fee. For first-year operators, the licence cost is $325.25, while a renewal will cost a business $213.83 a year. Boucher doesn’t like having to pay the licence fees.

“It’s bloody outrageous how they came up with this cost,” she said. “Prices will have to go up and the customers will pay in the end.”

Coun. Josh Colle for (Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence) clarified the inspection decision.

“Anything we regulate, there’s no point in licensing something if we don’t inspect people,” he said. “We aren’t making money (from) this. The intent here is to give us more tools to work with.”