Smart Serve Ontario to provide sexual assault prevention training

(BlackburnNews.com file photo by Jason Viau)

Restaurant and bar workers in Ontario are about to become more privy to the dangers of sexual violence in spaces where alcohol consumption is allowed.

Smart Serve Ontario, the province’s alcohol sales and service training program, has launched a new learning module to better equip bartenders and servers in recognizing potentially dangerous situations and preventing sexual assaults. Smart Serve has partnered with the Ministry of the Attorney General to introduce the program into workplaces.

Mary D’Alton, Smart Serve board chair, said they are working with the Alcohol and Gaming Commissioner of Ontario (AGCO) to create the new content to ensure hospitality staff are prepared to mitigate risks within social settings.

“The safety of our community is always the first priority, and it takes collective action to reduce risks and intervene when others are in danger,” said D’Alton. “Recognizing the link between establishments that serve alcohol and the risk of sexual violence cannot be ignored.”

According to Smart Serve, the learning module includes an overview of sexual violence and drug-facilitated sexual assault.

Upon completion, servers and bartenders should have a better idea of how to proactively intervene and stop dangerous situations with staff and guest safety in mind. Workers will be introduced to three specific scenarios, including lessons on consent, types of sexual violence and strategies to reduce risks.

“While this new learning module is a critical step towards reducing sexual violence risk, establishments must still create internal policies and human resource compliance training for managers and employees,” a release from Smart Serve read.

Allegations of gender-based violence and sexual violence made national news headlines in early September, the reports were most notably made within large post-secondary institutions in London such as Fanshawe College and Western University.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe and protected in our communities and I commend Smart Serve’s ongoing commitment to research, education and other preventative measures that recognize the heightened risk of sexual violence in locations where alcohol is sold and consumed,” said Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario.

As a registered charity in Ontario, Smart Serve’s mandate is to support the industry and ensure the responsible sale, service and handling of alcohol through education, training, open dialogue and partnerships.