Month: June 2018

Employing Newcomers in Canadian Hotels Pilot ProjectTourism HR Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) applaud the federal government for launching the Employing Newcomers in Canadian Hotels Pilot Project. This three-year pilot program will see nearly $7 million dedicated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to connect newcomers to Canada with jobs in the hotel industry in five regions across the country.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, announced the initiative on World Refugee Day, June 20.

Attendees included members of the Tourism HR Canada Board of Directors, in Ottawa for their June meeting, as well as staff from the event’s host hotel, the Westin Ottawa. The Westin Ottawa cook Tao Huynh was profiled, as she arrived in Canada as a refugee from Vietnam in the 1970s, and has built a successful career at the Westin while raising a family of four children, now adults with their own careers.

“We are delighted to partner with the Government of Canada and Tourism HR Canada on this exciting program that will help people new to Canada join our industry,” said Susie Grynol, President of the HAC. “This is a win-win for newcomers and hoteliers. Those employed through the program will have an opportunity to obtain work experience that will help them develop critical skills as well as room to grow, while Canadian hotels can address job vacancies.”

This pilot program is one of the first through IRCC’s $32 million dedicated funding stream for service delivery improvements and innovations made under the government’s settlement program. This initiative will assist up to 1,300 unemployed or underemployed newcomers to secure a range of hotel jobs, including both entry level and management positions.

Tourism HR Canada President Philip Mondor sees this initiative as the right fit at the right time. “The innovative model we’ll be deploying for this initiative targets key challenges faced by both employers and new employees. A common challenge often referenced by employers is that newcomers often do not possess the language skill level necessary to properly engage in the training and other onboarding activities they will be subject to. This project addresses that issue head-on: providing contextualized language skill training is a core component of the model being implemented,” states Mondor.

More than 10% of tourism jobs go unfilled because of labour market issues. Projections show that demand for workers will exceed supply for the majority of occupations in the accommodations industry, from frontline positions to supervisors and managers. The tourism industry is a powerful economic driver across Canada, representing $41.2 billion of Canada’s GDP in 2017. This new program will help to rebuild lost economic opportunity from unfilled jobs.

“The advantage of working in hotels is more than just the simple fact that jobs are available. Hotel jobs are a springboard to build a lifelong and fulfilling career,” concluded Grynol. “Hotels offer a variety of positions, strong upward mobility, training, and investment in employees. When you work in a hotel you quickly improve language and customer service skills and learn cultural nuances. There is no better place to cultivate these skills than working in a hotel environment.”

For highlights of the project announcement, watch this video.

Banff & Lake Louise Hospitality Association Welcomes 2018 Leadership AwardOn June 19, Tourism HR Canada Vice-President, Labour Market Intelligence, Calum MacDonald was honoured to present the Banff & Lake Louise Hotel Association (BLLHA) with the 2018 Outstanding Contribution to Advancing Progressive HR Practices Award.

Accepting the award on behalf of the association were Trevor Long, President; Darren Reeder, Executive Director; and Brenda Stanton, Manager, Research, Communications & Member Engagement. The event took place at the BLLHA’s Board of Directors and (appropriately) HR meetings, held at the Moose Hotel in Banff, Alberta.

The award is presented annually to individuals, organizations and employers with more than a decade of leadership in advancing human resource management practices that foster authentic, quality service and contributing to Canada’s ability to compete globally.

The BLLHA is an industry advocate in one of Canada’s premier destinations. It works tirelessly to strengthen and grow the tourism offering in the region, including a focus on attracting and retaining top talent. The organization is a leader in tracking regional labour market data, information which helps it develop initiatives that best meet the needs of local businesses. Recent examples include a workforce development bursary program, a training partnership with Royal Roads University, and the building of links with Indigenous partners.

“The Banff & Lake Louise Hospitality Association is truly honoured to receive the award for Outstanding Contribution to Advancing Progressive HR Practices,” stated Trevor Long. “We have been blessed by the strong and ongoing support of our partners to explore new and innovative approaches to address our destination’s labour force needs. While some of our labour force recruitment and retention efforts have proven more successful than others, we are reminded that it is the sustained commitment to ‘reach further’ that matters.”

Read more on BLLHA’s achievements in the original announcement of his award.

Jesse Tiefenbach of d3h Hotels Receives Distinguished HR Service AwardOn June 13, Tourism HR Canada President Philip Mondor was delighted to present Jesse Tiefenbach with the 2018 Distinguished HR Service Award. The presentation took place at the Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC)’s annual Leadership Conference and Recognition Dinner, held at the DoubleTree in Regina.

The award is presented annually to individuals or groups that demonstrate leadership in advancing human resource management practices that contribute to economic and social benefits for workers and the Canadian tourism sector.

As Chief Human Resource Officer for d3h Hotels, Jesse leads the team in supporting its 300-plus employees across 14 hotels in Saskatchewan and Alberta. He is a strong believer in training, apprenticeship, and certification, as well as staff recognition and incentive programs.

His use of innovative HR management practices has resulted in several other accolades: d3h has earned the STEC Employer of Choice designation, with at least one property achieving the title since the program’s inception in 2010, while Jesse himself was named one of Canadian Traveller’s Top 40 Under 40 this year.

“It is truly a privilege to have been chosen for the Distinguished HR Service Award,” said Jesse. “We certainly work hard as a business to ensure we are doing everything that we can for our amazing people. I’ve worked with d3h for 11 years and I’ve always understood how critical a well-functioning and forward-thinking HR department truly is. As a company, we understand that it is our people who take care of the guests we serve on a daily basis. As such, we do our best to ensure we take care of our people. We celebrate our 20th year in business in 2018; this methodology is time tested and has been incredibly successful for us.”

Read more on Jesse’s achievements in the original announcement of his award.

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Fresh on the heels of the revamped Food Service Counter Attendant and Kitchen Helper releases, Emerit is launching the following resources and programming for Line Cook:

As with any Emerit product, thorough industry consultation ensures each of these reflects the real-world knowledge and skills needed by today’s kitchen professionals.

The standards, workbook, and online learning will help trainees, job seekers, and students acquire transferable and occupation-specific skills. They cover professionalism, safety and sanitation, kitchen operations, and preparation and cooking.

The materials are flexible: learners can choose to study on their own or with the guidance of a supervisor or instructor, whether at work, in class, at home, or on the go.

Workplace trainers, employers, and educators can pair these resources with the Job Coach to build and implement training or curriculum resources that will accommodate individual learning styles and preferences.

The nationally recognized Line Cook professional certification program grants a Tourism Certified Professional (TCP) designation to those who pass the online exam and can provide evidence of having the requisite workplace experience. Exam questions are based on the National Occupational Standards; a copy is included with the Certification Prep Pack. The workbook and online course can help learners more fully prepare, if required.

For complete details and to access any of these resources, in English and French, visit the Emerit storefront.

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A streamlined, mobile-responsive website now showcases Tourism HR Canada’s key information and resources.

Launched this week, the revamped continues to feature the latest labour market intelligence, program information, and HR tools.

A reorganized structure makes it simple to find relevant information, while links to our newsletter and social media and a contact form ensure it’s easy to connect with us.

Interactive maps and charts add new options for engaging with our research.

Newly merged into the site is Discover Tourism: career awareness resources to help students, teachers, parents, job seekers, and guidance and career counsellors explore the multitude of pathways available in tourism.

The content will continue to undergo a refresh, so be sure to check back for newly released labour market data highlights, details on upcoming initiatives and partnerships, and our new strategic plan for 2019-2022—and be sure to subscribe to Tourism HR Insider to be the first to hear!

(seasonally unadjusted)

In May 2018, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.5%, which is 1.0 percentage point lower than the rate reported in May 2017, and lower than the previous month (April 2018) when the unemployment rate stood at 5.1%.

At 4.5%, tourism’s unemployment rate was well below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.9%.

With the exception of Accommodations and Travel Services, all tourism industry groups reported lower unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 2.0% in New Brunswick to 11.7% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 11.5% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of May.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – May 2017/2018
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
May 2017
Unemployment Rate –
May 2018
Tourism 5.5% 4.5%
Accommodations 5.7% 6.5%
Food and Beverage 5.8% 4.8%
Recreation and Entertainment 7.6% 5.2%
Transportation 2.3% 2.2%
Travel Services 3.7% N/A%
Figure 1 – Tourism Sector vs. Total Labour Force Unemployment Rates by Province (Seasonally Unadjusted)

1 To determine unemployment rates, industrial (NAICS) classifications are based on the most recent job held within the past year, and are self-identified by the respondent. Unemployed persons are those who, during the reference period, were available for work but were on temporary layoff, were without work, or were to start a new job within four weeks.

2 As defined by the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account. The NAICS industries included in the tourism sector are those that would cease to exist or operate at a significantly reduced level of activity as a direct result of an absence of tourism. Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, customized tabulations. Based on data for the week ending May 19, 2018.


June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day across Canada—a day to showcase and celebrate the cultural diversity, accomplishments, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Indigenous tourism in Canada is thriving, as entrepreneurs and established businesses are reaching new markets and seeing increased demand from established ones. The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) has set the following targets leading up to 2021: a $300 million increase in the annual Canadian GDP from Indigenous tourism and 50 new Indigenous tourism operators at export-ready status.

Indigenous workers are a particularly important part of tourism’s labour force—from frontline staff to owner/operators to entrepreneurs. Tourism HR Canada will soon release a full profile of Indigenous workers in Canada’s tourism sector, based on the most recent census data. In honour of next week’s celebration, here’s a sneak preview.

  • In 2011, there were 57,680 Indigenous workers in tourism. By 2016, that number had grown 30.2% to over 75,000 individuals. For comparison, the number of Indigenous workers across all sectors in Canada grew just 21.5% over the same time frame, highlighting the key role Indigenous peoples are playing in tourism’s growth.
  • As a percentage of its labour force, accommodations employs the largest share of Indigenous workers (5.6%), followed by recreation and entertainment (4.2%) and food and beverage services (4.1%).
  • Specific occupations where Indigenous peoples make up a high percentage of the workforce are outdoor sport and recreation guides (9.5%) and casino occupations (8.3%).
  • By region, Ontario has the largest number of Indigenous workers in tourism, with 19,485 individuals in tourism careers, but it also has the largest number of workers in tourism overall.
  • As a percentage of the total workforce, Saskatchewan has the largest Indigenous workforce of the provinces, at 13.1%. The three territories exceed this: Yukon’s share is 13.2%, Northwest Territories’ is 29.2%, and Nunavut’s is significantly more, at 69.8%.
  • Since 2011, Indigenous peoples have increased their representation within the tourism labour force in every province.
  • A greater percentage of Indigenous tourism workers are female than in the total tourism workforce: 57.5% compared to 51.1%.
  • Indigenous youth between the ages of 15 and 24 make up 38.4% of tourism workers, compared to 30.3% for non-Indigenous youth.

The increase in Indigenous individuals working in tourism is impressive, however Indigenous peoples are still underrepresented in the labour market: they make up 4.8% of Canada’s population, but just 4.1% of the tourism labour market. While this is more than the 3.7% in the labour market as a whole, industry associations, businesses, academia, and government need to develop comprehensive strategies to increase workforce participation by Indigenous workers in Canada’s tourism sector. With global interest in Indigenous cultures growing, now is the perfect time to invest in the unique experiences and perspectives offered by Indigenous individuals across Canada.

Watch for the full profile, including infographics and details of current and planned workforce strategies, on

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The news last week of Anthony Bourdain’s death by suicide was a shock and saddened millions of fans who shared Bourdain’s wonderment at the world around him and at our shared humanity, aspirations and dreams, which he explored through travel and cuisine. The news was also a reminder that despite outward appearances and behaviours, many people are dealing with inner demons that can be exacerbated by numerous factors, including workplace stress.

Workplace stress is prevalent in every sector of the economy and in pretty much every job. For those working in tourism and hospitality, a certain level of stress is normal—even healthy in some instances. From long lines of exhausted travellers at the front desk to the table of six with their laundry list of food intolerances and reminders that they are in a hurry, stress is unavoidable in most positions.

Another very tangible stress in parts of our sector is the shortage of available labour to meet demand. Discussion around skills shortages generally includes how the lack of qualified staff will negatively impact business growth, but not how ongoing shortages are impacting the work-life balance and stress levels of owners and current employees. While various levels of government and industry groups look to tackle this challenge, employers and managers can take steps now to ensure they are not adding stress without the practices and support to help employees navigate the situation. How stress is managed and channelled is key to its impact on an individual employee.

Tourism requires leaders who have not only ambition, drive and the IQ needed to succeed, but also the willingness to cultivate their Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ). EIQ is a set of abilities related to the understanding, use, and management of emotions as it relates to one’s self and others. Leaders who possess or cultivate these skills can:

  • Help mitigate the impact of workplace bullying
  • Improve team dynamics
  • Build a more inclusive, welcoming, productive, and less stressed environment for their employees

In general, we’ve recently seen a decline in civil discourse and empathy toward our fellow human beings. The root causes of this move away from civility are too numerous to broach here, so we’ll save the deep dive for a manifesto. That said, there are tangible examples of why abhorrent behaviour is becoming more commonplace in tourism and hospitality. One need only look at the litany of TV shows featuring the foul-mouthed, acerbic manner of Gordon Ramsey or his ilk brow-beating employees and employers alike to see this behaviour on display. Many are likely decent humans who are merely portraying characters prone to hyperbole and overbearing behaviour, but the influence on society and how that is reflected in the workplace cannot—and should not—be diminished.

Here are some workplace practices that can foster a positive mental attitude and provide the tools, procedures, and knowledge employees can access if they are having difficulties:

1. Create a healthy environment.
Employers need to be aware of the type of lifestyle they are promoting among their workers. In many businesses, and especially prevalent in bars and restaurants, hard work and stress are expressed through a hard-partying lifestyle once a shift is finished. While this approach may work for some short-term, it can often exacerbate the problem. Some constructive initiatives could include:

  • Encourage physical activity. If viable, assist employees with memberships to health clubs or time for a yoga session in a nearby park.
  • Dedicate part of regular staff meetings to sharing information about stress management and encourage the team to assist management in finding healthy outlets for stress and depression.
  • Ensure employees feel comfortable discussing the topic with managers/employers. Make sure the manager/employer has taken training or has the skills to render advice and assistance.

2. Assist employees to identify mental health risks.

Mental health is a very personal and private thing for most people, but that does not mean they are not looking for information to assist them in dealing with stress or depression. This is where an employer can find non-intrusive ways of providing help. Consider these practices:

  • When conducting annual performance reviews, include links to local mental health providers. This allows the employee to reach out independently, while also demonstrating that the employer cares about employees’ well-being.
  • Pay attention to what is going on with workplace culture. Listen to concerns and complaints, and address them. This can help build the trust needed by many to be open and receptive to advice and help.

3. Provide employees with information on how to access help.

Despite your best efforts, there will be employees who will never feel comfortable speaking directly to a supervisor or co-worker about mental health concerns, but we need to ensure these people do not fall through the cracks. Include sources of assistance in employee manuals, onboarding sessions, locker room posters, etc.

4. Be civil!

One might think this is obvious, but we are reminded daily that practices like the Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated) have somehow fallen by the wayside. An important attribute of being civil is listening to the people around you. Take ten seconds to understand what is being said before deciding on your answer and try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective before responding based your own. Some additional practices in building a healthier and more civil workplace include:

  • Set the example. Creating and cultivating a healthy, civil workplace starts with a company’s leadership. Workplace culture, norms, and practices often reflect the actions and behaviours of leaders.
  • Do not tolerate rude or aggressive behaviour and have stated, tangible repercussions that are enforced. Rude and uncivilized behaviour can be contagious, so dealing with the situation quickly, fairly, and consistently is a key factor in controlling behaviour.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Open and honest communication flow is important in every workplace. Establish mechanisms for employees to air grievances or concerns, as well as a feedback process for management to address them. A lack of dialogue between colleagues and between employees and management can sometimes foster a feeling that things are being withheld, which can be highly stressful and lead to negative or suspicious thinking. Being open and seeking input from everyone fosters a sense of inclusion and allows employees to make meaningful contributions to growing a healthy and productive workplace.

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Tourism HR Canada is delighted to announce that Darlene Grant Fiander has been selected by the Board of Directors as its new Chair. Her tenure becomes effective at the upcoming June 20 Board meeting, to be held in Ottawa.

Darlene will build on the Board’s mandate and the progress made through changing governmental and business environments and the organization’s restructuring and renewal.

Currently President of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) and Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC), Darlene is a longtime member of the Tourism HR Canada Board and brings more than 20 years of experience in Canadian tourism and human resources. TIANS is a non-profit organization representing over 1000 private sector businesses in tourism throughout Nova Scotia, while NSTHRC works with employers and employees to build a sustainable and healthy tourism workforce.

A graduate of Mount Saint Vincent University, Darlene has held various management positions within the tourism industry. She is a past president of Canada CHRIE—a group representing educators and industry associations in Canada—and a past Chair of the Nova Scotia Association of Industry Sector Councils. Darlene was the inaugural recipient of the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) Hall of Fame Award for leadership in human resources.

Darlene replaces William Pallett as Chair; Bill served in the role for six years, and will continue to provide guidance and historical perspective to the Board in his new role as Past Chair. The Tourism HR Canada team and Board members past and present thank him for his ongoing support and his dedication to building a world-leading tourism workforce.

Please join us in welcoming Darlene to this key role in guiding Tourism HR Canada as we strengthen and connect Canada’s tourism sector.

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