Shifting the response to sexual violence and harassment

In 2015, the Government of Ontario responded to this issue and released “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment.” Beginning with the introduction of legislation to strengthen provisions related to sexual violence, and updating curriculum for youth to better understand consent, to providing free legal advice to victims, the plan has 13 commitments to prevent sexual violence and harassment across Ontario.

One specific commitment the government is delivering on is the development of training for workers in the hospitality sector to empower them and help when they encounter high-risk situations. The hospitality sector employs approximately 450,000 individuals in Ontario and many are frontline workers in restaurants, bars, hotels and motels who are in a position to intervene in sexually violent situations. The sector also includes a large number of youth, females and newcomers who are also vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment in the workplace. The Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) in partnership with OTEC and Tourism HR Canada are developing an advanced training and awareness program to prevent sexual violence in the hospitality industry, called “It’s Your Shift.” With the proper training and resources, managers will learn how to support their frontline teams to cultivate a safe work environment and support survivors of sexual violence and harassment.

If you are a manager or are working in the hospitality industry, how can you get involved? Starting September 2017, the “It’s Your Shift” training and awareness program will be available to all hospitality businesses, workers and students. By taking this training, or incorporating it into your workplace training program, you have the opportunity to become a leader in ensuring patron and workplace safety, and ultimately, diminishing sexual violence.

As stated by Premier Kathleen Wynne, “We need to talk about sexual violence and harassment in every community, every classroom and every workplace. And that conversation needs to include everyone. By building on what we know works — here and around the world — together we can create a place that is safer for all Ontarians.”

Jamie is OTEC’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Jamie enjoys travelling, exploring Toronto's culinary scene and spending time with her friends and family.

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