Ontario Tattoo Association
Nix Tattoo Fest n#14  
Toronto Public Health, infection control guidelines: http://www.toronto.ca/health/cdc/infection_control/index.htm - Official Link
- A non-profit group dedicated to promoting excellence in the Tattoo Arts - Better tattoos through dialogue and education -

The BodySafe Program is now in effect in the GTA as of July 1st 2013. Find all the links here. We have posted some info on Facebook, more to follow soon. Stay tuned!

The purpose of the BodySafe program is to ensure that PSS owners/operators use safe practices when providing these services to prevent the spread of infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and other fungal and bacterial infections to those who receive or offer personal care services.

Establishments are inspected at least once a year and when complaints are received from members of the public. Find out more about the inspection and disclosure program.

Find more information on:
What clients need to know before they go to get a personal service
What operators need to know before they open a PSS
How to make a complaint about a personal service or establishment

This website does not provide information on personal services provided by individuals governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA).
Services provided by acupuncturists, registered massage therapists, nurses and physicians are not included on this website.

BodySafe is Toronto Public Health's inspection and disclosure program for personal services settings (PSS) that provide hairstyling and barbering, tattooing, micropigmentation, ear and body piercing, electrolysis, manicure and pedicure or aesthetics services. Some PSS establishments provide more than one service.

OTA Facebook: "The new PSS 'BodySafe' licensing program will start July 1st, 2013 in the Greater Toronto area. You must be fully compliant by July 1st 2014. If you want to apply, you have to start with MLS. Either by going to 850 Coxwell Ave at the East York Civic Centre, or calling or emailing them to ask for the PSS Licence application. 
Have your shops been inspected this year? If yes, then take your Pass/Satisfactory inspection report with you. If they haven't yet been inspected this year, then you can call TPH health connections at 338-7600 to ask for a TPH PSS business licence inspection. Stay tuned for the link on July 1st, as soon as we get it! New businesses must now get a health inspection and a license before opening".


Q - When will licensing take effect?
A -
You can apply for a licence any time. The program will start July 2013, however as far as we understand tattoo, piercing and electrolysis establishments will only have until July 2014 to be fully compliant with all laws and regulations.

Q - Will I need a licence? What will that require and what other costs or conditions may be required?
A -
Yes, each shop or studio or individual artist will need a license. Each shop will also require comprehensive or full coverage, meaning professional liability coverage. The insurance is not much more than standard business premises and contents coverage. Other conditions will also apply. For excample, serious criminal convictions, by business owners may prevent issuing of licences.

Q - How much will a tattoo licence cost and how do i get one?
A -
The license is for the shop and will cost around $320 for tattoos, ther will be another charge for each other personal service you do. If you already have a shop that gets health inspections, you will automatically be grandfathered into the new system, provided you meet certain criteria like criminal background checks for owner only now. If you do not have a shop that gets health inspections, you will have to apply to open a tattoo shop. First you need a health inspection, then you can apply for a licence.

Q - How do I join the OTA and what benefits will I get?
- Membership is open to anyone and even non members will benefit from this site for free. To become a professional tattoo member at this time, all we need is proof of your most recent health inspection. You can register on the front page of ontariotattoo.com via paypal. This site will include members areas where more information will be available than is on the public areas. We already have a para-legal written consent form that is acceptable by insurance. Information in articles, communication with other collectors and artists are just a few of the many benefits of membership. Knowledge is power!

The OTA received a letter from City Hall Summarizing the licensing issue titled "Interested Parties". All this information and more will be available in a members area on the new website in the coming weeks. Minutes from the recent vote are here: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewPublishedReport.do?function=getCouncilMinutesReport&meetingId=6806
Here are the exact items: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2012.HL18.2 and http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.LS18.2
This has been brought to you by the OTA, free of charge. Show your support and register now, tell your friends and customers.

Licensing of all personal service settings (PSS) was adopted by Toronto City Council 39-0. More info will be posted here and on the Totonto website within days. http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/decisionBodyProfile.do?function=doPrepare&decisionBodyId=261#Meeting-2013.CC30

Copy of The Board of Health and the ML&S decision and minutes, reccommending PSS licensing from Feb 4.
An OTA letter will be sent out to members detailing some issues and notes from the last ML&S committee meeting. The Feb 20 and possibly 21st may be the final public hearings on this issue. If, and we expect when this passes on the 20th, there will be a new system in place or the first phase anyway. Although not officially in force for one year, expect phase ins soon.

On Feb 4, the City Hall the ML&S committee voted unanimously in favour of licensing of all personal services, including Tattoo shops. The OTA was there, as with every meeting on this issue. Much more information will be sent out to members and posted here shortly. What may be the final vote on this issue will be on February 20 & 21 st. Public statements may not be allowed at this meeting but they are allowed to attend.

An ML&S committee meeting @ 9;30 am, Feb 4 in City Hall. What may be the final meeting about PSS licensing, before a city council vote in late February. Here is the complete Metro licensing meeting schedule and complete details:


Dec 21 2012 - New information - There is a lot of it from the December 12 City Hall Meeting with MLS and TPH. The City Hall Meeting took less than an hour but a lot of information was clarified and more new plans were discussed. There are many issues to go over, far too many to cover fully here, but we will attempt to highlight some of the most important and also in our opinion, potentially problematic issues.

Part 1 Overview of Zoning and TPH paragraphs (non-member highlights)

-This may seem like a lot to digest and frustrating at times to sort out. But we must try and remember, people have the right to expect personal services should be performed in a clean, regulated (inspected) premises and owners and operators have a legal, moral and professional obligation to provide this. Most professionals and collectors would agree.

Zoning: New zoning issues WILL affect every personal service business. By-laws enforced by Metro Licensing. (MLS) can enter any premises, with police if necessary to serve a by-law summons or ticket, if they suspect or have reason to beleive a licensed activity, like tattooing is taking place. They are required to give out a ticket (exact amount for first offence is not yet known). Then they must notify TPH to find out if the premises was inspected and if they passed. If not TPH must do an inspection immediately. There is very little wiggle room with MLS, the bylaws are set. But if and when issues arise and infractions are handed out (under the criminal code), you may apply for a continuance to a committee for a decision. Your business may be shut down in the meantime, until either the infraction is fixed or a continuance is granted! Other standard licensing requirements will apply like limited criminal record restrictions. We don't know yet exactly what those are. Obviously operations in residential only zoning may get a health inspection, but probably not a business license. The message from City Hall and very soon Ottawa is clear, you have over a year to make other arrangements, time to step it up or step it out. Find a new hobby.

More zoning info later...

TPH: We talked at great length about some existing inpection issues and potential problems with the proposed 'red-green-yellow' system set to go into place in the new year. The reports are made public on the TPH website in 24-48 hours and must be posted on the front windows of the premises immediately. The current system requires a signature from someone. If you have a legitimate issue or concern with an inspection, DO NOT SIGN OR LET ANYONE SIGN THE INSPECTION REPORT, call TPH and explain the problem and calmly request a re-inspection. But you better have a legit problem. Under the IPAC requirements, the owner is responsible for all health inspections. There should be someone in the shop at all times who know everything a health inspector will need to know in case of an inspection. The OTA has secured a copy of the new inspection reports for our members to review and prepare our staff better. Another bonus of membership in the OTA. Obviously a red will close the shop immediately. But apparently so will a yellow warning! Once the infraction is fixed, a new inspection will occur in 24-48 hours we are told, and the shop can reopen.

Under section 13 of 'The Ontario Health Protection andn Promotion Act' TPH or any health inspector, if he or she is of the opinion based upon reasonable and probable grounds, that a health hazard exists, has the authority to enter any place if they suspect a health risk.


The final BOH of Toronto vote to reccommend licensing was held Monday, November 19 at 1 pm, at Toronto City Hall. Representatives from The OTA were there. In attendance were Matt Ellis, Stu Kay and Eleanora Kay. Props out to Six
and Lemur from Exotix, the only people that showed up, other than the OTA.

Finally after 2 hours the section regarding Personal Service licensing got underway. The first speakers were from the spa and beauty industies. They all were in favour of licensing and spoke of the horror stories of competitors. Finally it was our chance, Matt Ellis and Stu Kay approached the speakers desk and sat at the microphone. Matt read from a statement, already prepared for the occasion. And was entered into the record. Unlike many of the other speakers, no questions were asked. After
the allowed five minutes, some brief discussions were had by the members of the BOH and a vote was held. The decision to endorse the licensing of all personal service settings was passed. Now the matter goes in front of MLS and to City Council for
final approval by late February.

After the vote, representatives from TPH (Toronto Public Health) and MLS approached the OTA to setup a meeting. We are excited to have more input into some issues of the licensing from both MLS's and TPH's perspectives.

At this time details are not known and questions remain unanswered. For example the fines for violation of the by-law could be as high as $5,000 per day, per offence and up to $25,000 for corporations! However, a first offence will be lower.
Some licensing conditions will include $1,000,000 "comprehensive" insurance, required by MLS.

All standard by-laws will apply in regards to zoning and even criminal background checks. The license will only be issued once specific standards have been met to the satisfaction of MLS and TPH. Unfortunately we have not been able to get complete information about exactly what those specific standards are yet or for what conditions a license could also be revoked.

TPH says that in many other areas around toronto tattoo and piercing establishments are required to carry 1M comprehensive insurance. Members in Hamilton have confirmed they are NOT required to have insurance in there, yet and licensing has been in effect there for two years! Some areas like Brampton, we have been told by MLS, it's mandatory but as yet we have not confirmed this. Everyone should have insurance, it is for your own protection and we reccommend you have it anyway, but to us it seems unfair we are required to have it and most other PSS are not! Those affected are Tattooing (we assume cosmetic also), piercing and electrolysis practitioners. These have already been deemed critical. So hair, nail, massage and anyone else won't require comprehensive insurance unless they do tattooing piercing or electrolysis.

TPH and MLS say many other businesses carry similar insurance in the Toronto area.

The License fees have been confirmed at under $320 for each service for the first year and $50/yr after that plus the $210/yr renewal fees.

Another new addition
will be the use of Blackberry or other electronic devices by health inspectors to post inspections online immediately. We have an issue with this. When, not if there is a problem with an inspection, there will be no way to resolve or dispute it BEFORE it is released on the internet and would be in error until a reinspection was done or otherwise resolved. Under the current system, a reinspection can be done, usually within a day or two.

Although TPH has stated Health inspectors are getting expanded training. We are sure problems with inspections will still happen and must be addressed.

The "KNOWB4UGO" system is already on the TPH website. Please let us know when problems happen, TPH says they are glad we started the OTA and want to work with us, so let's work with them. Contact us now: ontariotattoo@gmail.com
and stay tuned.....

We are also told there will be a new restaurant style inspection program, with a red, yellow, green rating that must be posted. MLS (Metro Licensing and Standards), will only verify that the rating card is and the license is displayed and no more. TPH will handle the health inspections, like before. We also foresee possible problems with this and think a red or green (pass or fail) like the current results would be better suited for our industry.

If you are outside the Toronto area in Ontario and are required to carry comprehensive or professional liability insurance, please email us: ontariotattoo@gmail.com asap.

On another very important note. A rash of mycobacterium skin infections has been investigated by the CDC and the FDA in the US. The bacterium was found in black and grey wash ink in a few regions in the United States.

The OTA has compiled a few things to avoid in general: Don't premix your own black and grey wash, mix it fresh in the cap or use commercial premixed inks. Only use the appropriate mixing solution to dilute your ink in bottles.

AVOID USING TAP WATER, although many would argue in large cities like Toronto the tap water contains less bacteria than expensive bottled water. That may or may not be true in Toronto, it is surely less reliable in smaller towns, such as walkerton.

The OTA suggests using steam distilled water or RO reverse osmosis for wash cups and wash bottles instead of tap water.

You can buy premixed black/grey wash or mixing solution for black/grey wash from most ink manufacturers.

We have compiled a very thorough and informative article about water here.

Here are some useful links. Outbreak of Mycobacterium chelonae Infection Associated with Tattoo Ink: 

Tattoo Ink-Related Infections - Awareness, Diagnosis, Reporting, and Prevention - NEJM:

Most notable recent TPH (Toronto Public Health) regulations include:

You must not refill ink caps.

Surfaces must be cleaned, wiped and sprayed to soak for manufacturers recommended soak times.

You must also WASH with soap AND disinfect with 70% alcohol, your brand new ink caps before using.

Sharps, INCLUDING DISPOSABLE RAZORS must now be put into approved sharps containers.

According to TPH "Plastic tubes are not sharps and do not need to be put in sharps containers".
Furthermore, The OTA and The GTTA have been assured by TPH that local health inspectors will not be making suggestions.

All new directives will come from TPH management, please report any unauthorized instructions immediatlely.

If you have an genuine issue or a problem with an inspection in the Greater Toronto area, please contact Cecilia Alterman at TPH.
Please remember, it's frustrating dealing with government but always try to be polite, you will get better results that way.

Note: Thanks to the OTA and GTTA you don't have to wash off the mark for piercings, as stated on your 'Fact Sheet'.
If anyone has information about other areas, like London or Hamilton (where there already is licensing) please contact us, we would be very interested in posting that information.
Ontariotattoo.com the website for the OTA - The Ontario Tattoo Association

In association with The Greater Toronto Tattoo Association - http://torontotattoo.com