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Training program aims to combat sexualized violence in Victoria’s hospitality industry

The program was developed in response to a 2019 City of Victoria motion

By Jolene Rudisuela
September 15, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Training program aims to combat sexualized violence in Victoria’s hospitality industry

The program was developed in response to a 2019 City of Victoria motion

Protesters rally in downtown Victoria in February 2021 following rape allegations against a bar manager at Chuck's Burger Bar, who also worked at other establishments. James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Protesters rally in downtown Victoria in February 2021 following rape allegations against a bar manager at Chuck's Burger Bar, who also worked at other establishments. James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Training program aims to combat sexualized violence in Victoria’s hospitality industry

The program was developed in response to a 2019 City of Victoria motion

By Jolene Rudisuela
September 15, 2022
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Training program aims to combat sexualized violence in Victoria’s hospitality industry
Protesters rally in downtown Victoria in February 2021 following rape allegations against a bar manager at Chuck's Burger Bar, who also worked at other establishments. James MacDonald / Capital Daily

A new training program has been developed to respond to sexualized workplace harassment and violence in Victoria’s restaurant and hospitality industry. 

The free course for employees and employers, titled TIPS (Training in Prevention and Safety), delves into how to recognize and respond to incidents, how to support those affected, and an overview of legal requirements.

Two in five Canadians experience unwanted sexual behaviour at work, but this is particularly pervasive in the restaurant and hospitality industry, according to the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC), which developed the program alongside Good Night Out Vancouver. Bars and restaurants are the top two public places where Canadians experience sexual harassment or assault, EVA BC has found.

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The program was developed in response to a 2019 motion by Couns. Sarah Potts and Jeremy Loveday calling for this exact thing. 

“This initiative is a step in the right direction to prevent sexualized violence in Victoria. The work started in 2019 but was really elevated by the voices of survivors and hospitality industry leaders,” Loveday said in a statement. 

For years, stories of sexual harassment and assault within Victoria’s bar and restaurant industry have been circulating. Those stories grew to a fever pitch at the end of January 2021 when more than a dozen women came forward with their own stories of sexual assault. 

A number of those allegations focused on Jesse Chiavaroli, a former bartender at Chuck’s Burger Bar. Following protests, Chuck’s closed permanently, and police arrested Chiavaroli in Vancouver on Dec. 10, 2021. He was charged with sexual assault and one count of assault with a weapon; his trial is ongoing and the charges have not been tested in court. 

In May of that year, Victoria City Council passed a motion to create an industry-led working group focused on preventing sexualized violence in the hospitality industry. 

This isn’t the first training of its type to be offered for the industry. Go2HR offers a course called Safer Spaces—which some local businesses, including Swans Pub, have taken part in. Last year, at least 16 local restaurants, including Leopold’s Tavern, took part in Good Night Out Vancouver’s free sexualized violence workshops. 

Leopold’s Tavern regional manager AJ Schepers told CHEK News last year that the training was eye-opening. 

“I think we’re all going through a moment where we need to check ourselves,” Schepers told CHEK News at the time. “I’m not gonna lie and say it’s all changed now that we’ve taken a three-hour course. It’s going to change when we change.”

Capital Daily reached out to Leopold’s Tavern and several other restaurants and pubs on Wednesday afternoon but did not receive responses by publication time. 

‘Steady increase’ in sexual violence

Last month, Elijah Zimmerman, the executive director of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, told Capital Daily that the centre has seen a “steady increase” in demand for its services each year. He pointed to the pervasive issue in the restaurant and hospitality industry as a contributing factor, as well as a reckoning in the tattoo industry over sexual assault allegations, and a number of sexual assault allegations within the local real estate industry.

Many sexual assaults continue to go unreported, however; only about one in every 15 is reported to police. 

And according to Statistics Canada, there remains a conviction gap. Only 43% of sexual assaults reported to police between 2009 and 2014 resulting in charges being laid. Only 12% of those led to a criminal conviction, while 7% resulted in a prison sentence.

—With files from Martin Bauman, Brishti Basu, Emily Fagan, Jimmy Thomson, and Tori Marlan

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