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Shoppers-branded Botox clinics launch in Oakville, Ont.

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Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:14PM EST

TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart takes its most aggressive step into the beauty business this weekend with its first stand-alone clinic to offer Botox injections, fillers, laser treatments and medical-grade peels.

But while the Beauty Clinic by Shoppers Drug Mart is being touted as “a natural extension” of the drugstore chain’s moves into the cosmetics space, some wary observers fear it further commodifies medical procedures increasingly regarded as casual touch-ups that don’t require the expertise of a physician or surgeon.

The inaugural shop opens Saturday in Oakville, Ont., just west of Toronto, after a soft opening Dec. 22 that saw a steady stream of customers come through the sparsely furnished, three-bay clinic, says Sarah Draper, senior director of healthcare partnerships & innovation.

“This is really what our customers have been asking for,” says Draper.

“We’re kind of a trusted expert in the space and are positioned pretty well, I think, to offer enhanced beauty services in a setting that’s comfortable and convenient for people.”

Tucked into the corner of a suburban strip mall, the nearly all-white colour scheme, minimalist decor and serene atmosphere evoke a spa-like retreat.

A “concierge” greets arrivals and confirms appointments in the entryway, where a bank of medical-grade beauty products covers one wall. Visitors are ushered into a tucked-away waiting area, where cushioned seats, tablets and sleek wood privacy screens offer a quiet space to fill out paperwork.

Draper says one of three nurse practitioners then conducts one-on-one consultations with each client and takes “an in-depth medical history” to determine a treatment regimen.

“Our nurse practitioners all have medical esthetics certification and over a decade experience in nursing,” she says, noting their higher medical classification gives them authority to prescribe and administer injectables.

A medical esthetician handles lasers, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.

The Loblaw-owned chain says procedures and training were developed in consultation with doctors who provide ongoing advice, but physicians are not onsite.

That’s what bothers Dr. Michael Brandt, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Toronto who wonders about quality and whether staff are able to adequately respond to medical emergencies.

“You wouldn’t sign up for surgery at a grocery store,” says Brandt, noting that while there are many excellent providers in the field, the lucrative industry has also attracted less qualified practitioners.

“All medical procedures have indications, contra-indications, alternatives and limits as to what each of those procedures can provide and with each of these procedures you need to go through a very careful assessment of the patient and then make an accurate diagnosis. None of this is cookie-cutter.”

And while nurse practitioners have the authority to conduct these beauty treatments, Brandt questioned whether all of them should.

“Just because a professional has the authority to perform a procedure does not automatically mean it is appropriate to do so,” he says, noting there are nonetheless very qualified nurse practitioners in esthetics. “Is it appropriate for a nurse practitioner to be performing surgery? They might have the capacity to do it, they might be allowed as a delegated act to do it, but most people would choose to have a surgeon perform their surgery.”

Brandt warned that if improperly applied, lasers carry the risk of severe burns, scarring and discolourations. If a filler is injected into a blood vessel, it can cause an occlusion of that vessel, killing anything it supplies.

Still, there’s no denying that growing public interest has ignited a specialized industry previously the domain of dermatologists and plastic surgeons.

Milica Duran, a co-ordinator for the esthetician program at Centennial College in Toronto, calls it “the fastest growing industry in the world.”

“Our numbers and the interest has been skyrocketing,” she says of the school’s programs, which includes a special one for nurses entering the field.

Job openings, too, are growing: “Now we have more placement sites than students.”

She credits that to advertisements, youth-obsessed images on social media, and the aging population.

“We have our baby boomers, we have more money here happening, more social media, more awareness, more education,” says Duran. “This is why so many nurses want to go into the field — there are so many doctors’ offices that cannot find qualified staff.”

Oakville esthetician Cynthia Webb notes that while some dermatologists and surgeons do their own injections, most delegate to a nurse, such as herself.

She works for a Toronto plastic surgeon and conducts treatments in that clinic, as well as in her own clinic. She can’t help but wonder whether the retail giant will erode business for independent operations like hers.

She notes that many patient decisions are driven by cost, and that’s what can get them into trouble.

“When they call, the first thing they’ll ask is: ‘How much is a unit of Botox?’ Well, you’re not paying for the Botox or the neuromodulator or the filler. You’re paying for the experience of the practitioner,” says Webb, a registered nurse who sends all her patients to a doctor for consults and follow-ups.

Shoppers Drug Mart customers can earn PC Optimum points on a variety of services, and Botox injections start at $10 per unit.

Draper says prices are “in line with the market” and that the goal is not to be more competitive than the little guy.

“For us, this is really about providing the service that our customers want in a trusted and convenient space and improving on the beauty offering that we have at the table.”

Duran isn’t surprised Shoppers has entered the fray and guesses they will expand rapidly beyond the Oakville pilot and a Toronto location set to open later this year.

“We’ve come so far with lasers, chemical peels and this is all very lucrative,” she says. “All plastic surgeons, all dermatologists have either nurses or medical estheticians working for them, even GPs as well. Everyone’s in on it.”



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Florists to duke it out in Philly at Interflora World Cup

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PHILADELPHIA — This year’s theme at the Philadelphia Flower Show might be “Flower Power” but not all events at the annual floral festival will be about peace and harmony.

The show will also play host to the Interflora World Cup, where designers from 23 countries will fight it out over several rounds in a “Chopped”-style competition.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the designers will have to tackle surprise challenges and create over-the-top floral arrangements, everything from creating a hand-tied bouquet or setting a table for two.

California-based florist Katharina Stuart will represent the U.S. in the competition, which has been held every four to six years since 1972. This will be its first time back in the U.S. since 1985.

Preliminary rounds will take place on March 1-2, and five finalists will continue on to March 3.

Any show attendees can watch the florists duke it out.



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Kentucky canoe outfit borrows photo of Trudeau family to market business

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OTTAWA — You might think the last thing you’d stumble onto on a rural road in central Kentucky is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Chances are many of the people who pass by the intersection where Mammoth Cave Road meets Old Mammoth Cave Road don’t even notice that they did.

But there, on the right side of the road, about two hours south of Louisville at the edge of a national park, is a giant billboard advertising the Mammoth Cave Canoe and Kayak operation, one mile ahead on the left. And the photo on the billboard, of a smiling family of four in a canoe, is clearly the Canadian prime minister, his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and their two oldest children, Xavier and Ella-Grace.

They are in a red canoe, all clad in life jackets, and Sophie and Ella-Grace are waving.

A call to Mammoth Cave Canoe and Kayak went unreturned Wednesday, but a man who owns a cabin rental operation across the street from the billboard confirmed its existence. He said he hadn’t looked at it that closely before and was surprised to learn it featured Trudeau.

The billboard photo wasn’t there in June 2015, when Google captured an image of the spot for its Google Street View page. But it has been there since at least 2016, when an observant Facebook user spotted the sign and posted about it in French.

Another person mentioned the billboard on Twitter last June.

But the story seemed to take on more legs Wednesday after a Reddit user posted a photo of the billboard captioned, “Did you ever hear about our Trudeau billboard down here in Kentucky. We haven’t quite learned not to steal pictures from the Internet yet.”

It prompted Trudeau to tweet a response. “For the record: This was taken in Yukon in 2013. A spectacular part of this country to explore.”

Trudeau originally tweeted the photo himself in August 2013 when he announced he and his wife were expecting their third child.

“Thrilled to let you know we’re going to need another seat in our canoe: Sophie is pregnant! #threeisthenewtwo,” he posted, more than two years before he would become prime minister.

When it comes to advertisers nabbing internet photos of unwitting politicians, Trudeau was portrayed in a somewhat more flattering light than Conservative MP Michael Chong.

In 2017, a Canadian woman noticed a photo of Chong was being used in a poster campaign in Guatemala advertising sanitary bathrooms.



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When It’s the Right Time to Let Go

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Ah the power of a wonderful New Year! Across all walks of life individuals like you and I have already contemplated, and perhaps already acted on, new resolutions such as: resetting our approach to career, health, friendships, dreaming, planning, parenting, family vacations, renovations and a whole variety of other worthy life activities we value.

In the plethora of choices one can explore and commit to, have you ever considered the life changing decision and commitment of the powerful act of choosing to let go. Letting go? Letting go of what? Letting go of a grudge, an embarrassing chapter in your life, letting go of grief, letting go of a financial loss, letting go of a toxic relationship, letting go of a betrayal, letting go of a terrible mistake of the past, letting go of the habit of a TO DO LIST that is too long, unrealistic and guilt inducing, or letting go of what could have been ‘if only’.

Drop the Heavy Baggage

Any of the examples mentioned, and many similar others that might have already popped in your head, can contribute to heavy baggage that just holds you back. It can have this unconscious ball and chain feeling that is so part of your life you don’t even recognize its presence. Nevertheless, when facing a tough day or week, low and behold it is right there like an old blanket wrapping us up in a cocoon of self-pity and harsh self-criticism.

This year might just be the year to identify that old blanket, define the impact it has on you, how and when it comes knocking and decide: this is the year you send it packing with it’s baggage. Time to give it an eviction notice and announce it is no longer welcomed at this address.

Start small. Pay attention to the typical instances when it comes knocking. It has a pattern! Do not dismiss it or try to ignore it. Look at it straight on, define it, spell it out for what it is and the impact it keeps having on you.

related: 10 Signs Your Self-Esteem Is Under Attack (And How to Give It a Boost!)

Write It Out

I recommend you take the time to sit and write it out. Write the specifics of the event or the difficult season, your emotions, your pain, shame, guilt, embarrassment – whatever flows out of the accumulated little volcano – spill it out on paper. The white pages become a therapeutic tool that welcomes your story with no judgement. Then acknowledge your part, acknowledge the parts others played and then resolve to forgive yourself and anyone else that was involved. This could turn out to be a process of a few hours over a period of a few days. Take the time you need without over analysing or dragging it on too long.

Once you feel it has all been said, then the last remaining step is forgiveness. This part is significantly important. End this written therapeutic exercise by concluding: I choose to let go! I choose to forgive myself and forgive those who where part of this season in my life, then sign and date your written statement. This is now a legal contract with yourself that states: today on day and month, 2019 I choose to LET GO!

related: How To Effectively Practice Self-Love

Now find a significant way of destroying this written statement. Make it memorable! This act of destroying your statement will not only be a physical representation of letting go, but will also serve as a cathartic tool and reminder now preserved in your brain.  A tool, which you will use every time the unhealthy pattern lurks its ugly head. When that happens, you will have the reminder, a contract with yourself where you can state and speak to that pattern: On such a day in 2019, I chose to LET GO and I did!

Now ENOUGH, it’s no longer allowed at this address.

This cognitive behavior tool is similar to a traffic RED LIGHT. You don’t negotiate with a red light, you step on the brakes, at least I hope you do! With numerous repetitions, swinging at this pattern with your visual of when you destroyed the written statement, you will have the final say and succeed in LETTING GO!

Nicole Lafrance

Nicole Lafrance

I am a solution-focused person who believes in drawing from your strengths to help you move forward to attain a more fun and fulfilled life. I believe everyone has strengths and hidden treasures that can be brought to the light with the aim to design a better tomorrow.With over 20 years of experience, I offer confidential Professional Counselling and Life Skills Coaching.

Nicole Lafrance

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