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Aesthetic revolution

The push for a regulated aesthetic industry is gaining momentum out west

Yolanda Delafranier is exasperated by the difficulties to get regulations adopted for aestheticians in Western Canada.

“It’s frustrating that there is no regulation,” says Delafranier, who works for Tru Spa Institute in Nanaimo, British Columbia, in admissions and community relations. Delafranier has worked tirelessly to get spa owners to recognize the value of a fully trained aesthetician but progress with both owners and the health authorities has been slow. “It’s very frustrating from a school’s perspective because we’re trying to create a standard of professionalism,” she says.

B.C. was deregulated in 2002. The issue is beign revisited now because aestheticians are doing more skin-invasive procedures and authorities there look at regulations every 10 years.

But now the timing might be right for a change in the industry thanks, in part to the efforts of the director of the aesthetics program at Del Mar College in Calgary. Linda Villeneuve’s fight for regulations has spanned more than a decade and two provinces. She taught aesthetics in B.C. for eight-and-half years before moving to head up the program at Del Mar. “One of the things I told the owners of Delmar when I started: within a two-year time period of them hiring me, I was going to get regulation at least started in Alberta,” she says.

She was hired in 2010. In 2012 the B.C. Cosmetology Industry Association expanded to include Alberta and changed its name to the Beauty Council of Western Canada to help in the push for accreditation.

Villeneuve is currently heading up a team from the Beauty Council that is creating an application for designated occupation status in Alberta that is very close to being sent to the government. The 25-strong Alberta advisory panel–made up of salon and spa professionals from industry in the province–is also spreading awareness. The Beauty Council has also created a program called Beauty Safe, which will set the benchmark on the general trade practices and entrance level infection prevention control.

She is fighting for that status because it allows the industry, rather than government, to have control over the entrance exam, it allows the industry to self-regulate, and there’s a lot less red tape than if she had pursued an apprenticeship-style approach.

And while Villeneuve was doing this work, Alberta Health was rewriting the legislation that governs the personal service industry, which includes hair, nails, and aestheticians. “How coincidental is that?” she says. “To find out that Alberta Health is currently rewriting the regulations governing our industry is fabulous. This is like the aligning of the stars.”

Villeneuve has been told the plan is to have the regulations in Alberta in front of the health minister before the end of 2013 with the hope they will come out the following year. “I’m not going to profess to know exactly what will be written into the regulations,” she says.

A Success Story

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Nova Scotia is one of the leaders in Canada when it comes to regulations for aestheticians.

After a lot of work and a strong desire of its members, the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia accepted aestheticians in 2003. The association worked closely with the province to develop a legislated act and bylaws to govern the cosmetology industry as the issue was too great to ignore. “It’s a huge need,” says Dana Sharkey, executive director of the cosmetology association, citing issues like bacteria and sanitation.

Currently, aspiring aestheticians must complete 1,250 hours in school and then complete a provincial exam–both practical and written. Right now it’s a three-tiered system with a junior licence, a general licence and a masters. But that is actually up for change. The proposed system stipulates 1,500 hours and removes the junior and general licenses with graduates coming out as aestheticians then working toward their masters and instructors–if they want to go that route. The association self-regulates through licensing and makes sure its aestheticians are compliant with all regulations, as well as sanitation and disinfecting of all salons and spas in the province. The association also fields member and public complaints.

Back out in Nanaimo, Tru Spa Institute will continue to offer students a high standard of education through its six-month Complete Aesthetics Technician program and its nine-month Aesthetic and Spa Essentials. “We are strong supporters of the B.C. Beauty Council,” says Delafranier. And she says she is starting to see the change in some spa owners as they see the need for somebody certified. “It’s just something that just puts them more over the top than some of the other places.”

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