NDP Women’s Issues critic Peggy Sattler (London West) is tabling a new bill Thursday that requires sexual violence and harassment prevention training be included in Smart Serve, the mandatory training for restaurant and bar owners and employees.
“Servers, bar owners and bartenders are already required to learn to recognize when somebody has had too much to drink and are trained to intervene to stop alcohol service, and help the guest arrange to get home safely,” said Sattler. “It is a natural extension to expand the training to help those in the industry recognize and intervene safely when their customers are at risk of sexual violence or harassment.”
Sattler’s bill, The Safe Night Out Act has widespread support and follows a recommendation from the December 2015 Final Report of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment. Instead of adopting the recommendation, in September 2016 the Liberals announced funding to develop voluntary sexual violence training for bartenders and servers – an announcement that many, including Toronto bar owner Nick Kennedy, felt did not go far enough.
“I’m honoured that I’ve been able to work with groups and organizations, such as the Dandelion Project, to serve as a leader in the Toronto service industry and ensure that my staff and patrons are as safe as they can be,” said Kennedy. “Doing this work has shown me that unless training is mandatory, too few restaurants, hotels, and bars will have access to the resources that are needed to adequately train their staff and protect their patrons.”
Toronto City Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who spoke in support of the bill, agreed. Wong-Tam has already put forward a motion at Toronto City Hall calling for this very step to be taken.
'All establishments that are profiting from the sale of alcohol have a responsibility to make sure that their guests and their clients get home safely,' said Wong-Tam. “I was proud that my motion at City Hall calling for this legislation passed 35 to four, and I hope the government will make MPP Sattler’s bill a priority when they return in the fall.”
The Ontario University Students’ Association (OUSA) has also identified this as a key issue for students, and has spent the last year lobbying the government to introduce this legislation. Speaking in support of Sattler’s bill at Queen’s Park, OUSA president Andrew Clubine said “OUSA is pleased to see MPP Sattler take leadership on this important issue. Bar environments tend to be high-risk areas for sexual violence. By mandating training for management and service staff, the province would be taking a step forward in combatting sexual violence within our communities.”
“In Ontario, we know that alcohol or drugs were factors in one in five reported sexual assaults, but the actual incidence is likely to be much, much higher,” said Sattler. “Earlier this week, all three parties recognized Sexual Assault Prevention month. My bill would go a long way to preventing sexual violence and harassment by training bystanders how to intervene when they see someone at risk.”