TORONTO — This morning, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) unveiled a new Sexual Violence & Harassment Intervention Training program for the hospitality-and-tourism industry at a press conference held at the Hyatt Regency Toronto Hotel.

Developed in collaboration with Tourism HR Canada (THRC) and Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC), the complimentary training program — called It’s Your Shift — features five online modules with a dedicated module for supervisors, managers and owners, as well as job aids, resources and guidelines for the workplace.

ORHMA president & CEO Tony Elenis opened the press conference, highlighting the pertinence of this initiative. “I am thrilled to be here today to announce this essential new training initiative. We’re proud to share in supporting the Government of Ontario’s “It’s Never Okay” campaign to end sexual violence and harassment in the province. Harassment is present in every industry and we know the hospitality industry is not immune to it…It’s Your Shift, available as of today, will guide employees and managers on how to recognize and appropriately intervene in sexually violent or harassment situations, while managers will learn how to support their teams. It’s Your Shift is about the hospitality industry taking a leadership role and ORHMA is committed to working with our various partners towards the success of [this program].”

The SHIFT (Stand up, Help support zero tolerance, Intervene safely, Find resources to help and Talk about it) program is intended to be incorporated into the industry’s workplace training and onboarding processes, as well as the curriculums of post-secondary tourism and hospitality programs.

“Creating awareness and providing training are prerequisites to creating a positive culture in the workplace. It’s Your Shit is meant to provide tools for operators that augment their existing policies, procedures and protocols for sexual violence and harassment,” said Dan Morrow, head Food & Beverage for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and chairman of ORHMA. “Ultimately, the success of this initiative will be based on industry adoption and creating environments that provide avenues for employees and employers to better communicate when issues of a sexual nature arise.”

William Pallett, chairman of the board, THRC; Minister of Labour, Kevin Flynn; and Minister of the Status of Women, Indira Naidoo-Harris also took part in the announcement, heralding the initiative as a key step for the industry and the province. “Everyone in Ontario has the right to work in a safe environment. This is the fundamental philosophy at the Minsitry of Labour,” said Minister Flynn. “Safety doesn’t just mean physical dangers, but psychological ones, as well. This includes harassment of any kind. The changes we brought forward are creating safer workplaces and improved protection for our workers.”

In 2016, the Government of Ontario passed the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment). The intention of the plan is to help change attitudes, improve supports for survivors and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints of sexual violence and harassment.

“Ontario and the hospitality-and-tourism industry in Ontario are setting the bar very high for how we can bring about change in the workplace with regard to this issue,” said Pallett.

“Through the SHIFT model, hospitality-and-tourism sector employees will receive the support, tools and training they need,” explained Elenis. “Together we can foster an industry of zero tolerance of sexual harassment.”

The SHIFT program is available to all employees in the hospitality and tourism industry on the dedicated website itsyourshift.ca.

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