Frontline workers in the hospitality, health, education, and community services sectors, will receive training to identify and intervene in instances of sexual violence and harassment among employees and patrons.
The Ontario government is providing the tools through a $1.7 million investment over three years, as part of It’s Never Okay – Ontario’s Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, which aims to make workplaces and campuses safer.
In the hospitality sector, for instance, a large number of the 450,000 employees in Ontario include youth, female and newcomer workers, many of whom are vulnerable to sexual harassment. They are also in a position to intervene in instances, since they work closely with customers.
“Harassment is present in every industry and the hospitality industry is not immune to it,” said Tony Elenis, president and chief executive officer of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA). “We will work with our partners, key stakeholders and industry employers to create awareness and through training provide the necessary tools to ensure a safer workplace, respectful for all.”
In addition, Tourism HR Canada will collaborate with ORHMA to develop online training for servers, bartenders and management in the food and beverage industry. The training will improve safety for workers and patrons in establishments serving alcohol.
Currently, intervention is poorly handled. Many workers don’t know how to properly respond, have concerns about personal safety and fear losing employment.
Also, as part of It’s Never Okay, legislative amendments to the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act passed earlier this year come into effect on September 8. They include:
- setting out who would investigate if the alleged harasser is the employer or supervisor
- knowing how to maintain confidentiality during investigations
- providing written results of the investigation to the complainant and alleged harasser (if under the employer’s direction)