Canada plans to welcome nearly 1 million immigrants over the next three years. This will have a major impact on the hospitality industry. Immigration authorities are targeting skilled workers through their Canada Express Entry System.
The Canadian hospitality industry has already started to evolve in the last couple of years to reflect new trends and customer requirements. While this is seen as a bonus as many skilled workers fill thousands of job openings, it will bring difficulties for hospitality managers.
The biggest change will be the fast tracking of Middle Management and customer service professionals, as well as human resources managers. By default there will be a shift of expectations and hiring processes as these professionals bring practices from other countries.
The evolution of social patterns in the hospitality industry is at the forefront in management restructuring. New managers may be qualified to hold positions and it may appear to be a good move, both socially and financially to open doors, but executives need to move slow.
Handling male or female employees who have specific expectations of how the other sex should behave, and what is allowed, has been addressed for decades in Canada. It is hardly even discussed anymore. Most companies have their own introductory package and have safeguards in place to prevent Labour Board Claims.
Some of the more ‘obscure’ problems can be addressed in the fact that managers cannot have an authoritarian attitude toward employees. This one is a little more difficult to address because, no matter where you put your focus, someone is not being treated fair.
Focus on helping the new manager learn the ropes, and high value employees may become frustrated and leave, taking patrons with them. Put the employees needs first, and the company may face a human rights or religious rights claim. Both of these put the company at risk of high fines from the labour board.
There are more subtle nuances in the law that Canadians may need to take into account. For one, Canada has turned a blind eye to polygamy, often sending multiple Child Benefit Checks to a family for children with different mothers, and who may live in different households.
There are also social expectations. Some religions forbid a man from touching another man’s wife, even if it means offending a supplier, customer, or an executive by not shaking their hand. It is very easy to claim that we need to be more tolerant, but it can cost a manager their job by trying to juggle who needs to be the most tolerant, which issues need to be addressed, and which issues a manager needs to take a firm stand on. In some cases it may require a lawyer to sort out these problems.
In 1991, Ontario was looking for ways to ease the burdens of a backlogged court system. So the province changed its Arbitration Act to allow “faith-based arbitration” – a system where Muslims, Jews, Catholics and members of other faiths could use the guiding principles of their religions to settle family disputes such as divorce, custody and inheritances outside the court system.
What does this mean for current management candidates? It means that they must be very careful what they agree to, and what they don’t agree to. There is a grey area where a person of faith can enter an agreement based on their faith, with a person who is not of that faith. The problem comes when the person who is not of that faith has no idea of the religious implications of their agreement. Under Ontario law, that agreement is legally binding.
The problem is further complicated by specific cultures who want to be governed independently. While this may appear to be a non issue, consider the problem with cultures that do not have a marriage ceremony. Instead, people are considered married if they become intimate.
Another practical application is the cultures that have concessions for the poor. A single mother in housekeeping may take 2 towels home, and not pay for her lunch at the restaurant. If the company has bent over backwards in other issues of culture to help this woman, then she may have the expectation that her culture’s poor laws apply as well. So, under this condition the woman has not stolen.
Waiting until after a situation has arisen before addressing problems, and not consulting a lawyer, can leave a Canadian company, or a foreign company doing business in Ontario, in danger of legal, financial and (depending on the culture in question) criminal issues.