Membership Saves Money and Protects your Business Join Now!
The Voice of the Hospitality Industry  
Government Relations Advocacy - Goals & Successes 

The Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) is dedicated to fostering a positive business climate for Ontario’s Hospitality Industry.

Who we are?
  • A non-for-profit Ontario association representing the hospitality industry dating back to the 1920’s.
  • We are Canada’s largest provincial hospitality association representing over 11,000 businesses.
  • We represent the industry’s interests at both the Provincial and Municipal levels of Government.

How do we add value?

  • We are diligent and involved on the grassroots level.
  • We are driven to go the extra mile in supporting and gaining industry success.
  • We have proven impact and are relentless in not giving up.
  • We operate within a top service culture for one stop expertise on regulatory inquiries.

Provincial Advocacy 

ORHMA is a key stakeholder with all levels of government. Our provincial advocacy efforts impact various files including: tourism, environment, energy, health, finance, labour, AGCO and economic development. Recent years have not been kind to Ontario’s business community as it has been a tough climate for all involved. ORHMA has focused on supporting Ontario’s hospitality industry through education and alternative cost reduction options among favourably shaping tough legislation on behalf of our sector.

With the various policy challenges, ORHMA is prepared to continue to shape a positive hospitality climate for Ontario.

Key 2020 Advocacy and Related Work

Here's What You'll Find: 

Liquor Law Changes 
Municipal Accommodation Tax 
Workforce Initiatives 
Employment Standards 
Health & Safety 

Food Premises Regulations 
Food Handler Certification 
Menu Labelling in Hotels 
Credit Card Fees 
Drive Thru Regulations 
Short Term Rentals 

Allow Ontario Licensees to Sell Wine and Beer for Home Consumption

ORHMA recommends that the government allow the option for licensed establishments to sell beer and wine to consumers at retail pricing for home consumption through take out and delivery control systems in addition to on-premises sales and service. An AGCO license endorsement can maintain control and will keep the whole process simple to implement, administer and enforce. 

Make Amendments to Ontario’s Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) Act

Add an amendment to cap the MAT at 4%: 
The existing rules can potentially lead to inconsistency of fees for the consumer across the Province and potentially penalize the hotel sector as well as the traveller.

The MAT tourism plan is approved by the local hotel association: 
In recognition of the accommodation industry’s role in charging the MAT, for which the funding is used for growing visitation and promoting tourism in municipalities, the hotel sector should play an integral role in producing and approving the DMO’s annual business plan.

Universities and Colleges to charge MAT on transient business: 
Add clear language to the legislation to allow for imposing the MAT to room revenue in a university or a college of applied arts and technology or post-secondary institution to transient business (for non-student revenue generated primarily over the summer months).

Exempt the credit card processing fee costs charged on the MAT: 

A hotel that participates in the MAT should be able to retain the credit card processing fee charged on the MAT amount by the credit card companies. This is a processing fee the hotel currently absorbs and the impacts on costs are significant.

Workforce Initiatives

Knowing workforce is entering a critical stage in Ontario's hospitality industry, ORHMA is addressing a number of initiatives to support business success.

The Ontario Hospitality Institute (OHI): 

In 2019, ORHMA became the proud custodian of the OHI and we remain committed to being the conduit between hospitality students and industry. Through our programs, events and outreach, we help our students choose hospitality for the excellence that our industry represents.

Ontario’s Provincial Nominee Program: 

ORHMA is advocating to include the skills of Cooks and Bakers under this program to allow a more effective transition to Canadian status by oversea workers and international students.

ORHMA’s Recruitment Hospitality Program: 

With the existing workforce challenges in the hospitality industry, ORHMA is taking action to make staffing easier for employers and is now working with AMK Global who has assembled a team of experts that will bring your establishment qualified, pre-interviewed candidates to fill a number of positions including line cooks, bakers, butchers, restaurant managers, housekeepers and more.

Employment Standards  

The Repeal of Bill 148 – Labour Reforms

With an “Open for Business” government, ORHMA has been involved right from the beginning with the Ministry of Labour and the Premier’s office in recommending changes to unfair onerous amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. When Bill 148 was repealed, the PC government chose ORHMA to represent Ontario’s hospitality industry at the legislature’s committee hearings and the question-and-answer session to defend amendment changes in their media event launching Bill 47 the Making Ontario Open for Business Act.  

Employment Standards

Keeping up with the Employment Standards Act these past couple of years has been challenging. Hotel & restaurant members asked us to help raise awareness and develop some resources for the hospitality industry to understand their obligations under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). We listened and we delivered a dedicated website that was developed for our industry as a resource and includes free e-learning modules on Overtime and Termination Pay and so much more.

Overtime Averaging Agreements  

Furthermore, ORHMA approached the Ministry to simplify the Overtime Averaging Agreements and has been successful. Employees can now agree in writing with their employers to have their overtime hours averaged over a period that does not exceed four contiguous weeks. Employers are no longer required to seek approval from the Director.

Health & Safety Online Training Now Available

ORHMA was instrumental in advocating reducing red tape and at the top of our list we had recommended the Ministry of Labour have online training available for health and safety training. The online training will provide several efficiencies in saving face to face attendance training which can be costly. This training is important however it removes employees out of their daily job requirements and has additional costs for the employer as they pay wages for the employee for the training hours and for those covering for the duties while the employee is trained. The Joint and Health Safety Committee requirement is such an example. The government brought Ontario's health and safety training into the 21st century which was a request ORHMA had put forward. The provincial government announced changes that mean 50,000 Ontario workplaces no longer need to send workers for a five-day classroom course. By cutting red tape, the province is providing flexibility by making online courses fully available to Ontario businesses, reducing the time needed to take the first part of the course.

WSIB Premium Rates — Reductions for Employers

ORHMA has been a dependable and an influential stakeholder among our business coalition that met with WSIB’s leadership impacting future reductions in WSIB premiums. ORHMA continues to be in close dialogue with WSIB and aids in influencing decisions. The WSIB 2020 overall premium rates have dropped by 17%. Under the new rate classification system, the hospitality sectors are now grouped under code "O" Leisure and Hospitality with the 2020 average premium rate set at $1.05. Under the new system there are unique factors determining each employers' rates. Each employer will likely find their own individual rate either above or below this average.

Furthermore, ORHMA has been proactive in further reducing member premium rates by working with 4S Consultants a Ministry of Labour approved provider to make available the new WSIB Health and Safety Excellence program to its members. Simply stated completing this program results in reduction of premium rates.  

Simplifying Regulations for Food Premises

ORHMA has been the only hospitality association involved in working with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to modernize the provincial regulations introduced in July of 2018. Operators will benefit from the new streamlined, user-friendly regulations that support improved food safety practices and innovation in the industry.

Highlights of the Modernized Regulations:

Outdated, redundant requirements with no public health rationale have been removed, eliminating unnecessary burden for operators.
  • Removed duplication of structural requirements with the Ontario Building Code and focused requirements on maintenance and sanitation (i.e. requirements for patron washrooms, lighting and ventilation standards)
  • Removal requirement for doubling the strength of sanitizer concentration for large equipment that cannot be washed in a sink or mechanical dishwasher
  • Reduction of detailed requirements for vending machines and treat as equipment ensuring maintenance and sanitation

The new regulation allows opportunities for energy conservation.
  • Recognizing NSF standard for mechanical dishwashing equipment that is energy efficient
  • Removal of requirement for freezing temperature of -18 degrees Celsius and requiring food to be frozen solid following an ORHMA engineering study

Improving consistency of training and accountability setting clear expectations for operators.
  • Minimum requirement for a trained food handler in food service premises aligns with bylaws in some municipalities
  • Enhanced notification requirement for new operations to ensure early engagement with the public health unit

Recognizing flexibility in food safety practices.
  • Specifying two hours as the maximum time allowable that potentially hazardous food can be without temperature control during food preparation activities
  • Permitting non-hen eggs in food premises subject to certain conditions
  • Removal of prescriptive internal cooking temperatures for specific food items leading to outcome- based assessments 

Food Handler Certification

In response to recommendations that ORHMA put forward, all public health units and public providers are now providing similar training in food handler training, bringing consistency and acceptance of an employee’s certification across all 35 health units. The language food safety protocol was updated on this in January 2018. 

Hotel Menu Labelling

ORHMA has been successful in exempting the following from menu labelling rules:
  • Room service run by the hotel or under the hotel name shall not be inspected and is not in scope for the purposes of inspection
  • Items that are provided for free (e.g. free breakfast with the room booking or free coffee) are not considered to be standard food items
  • Hotel Restaurants are exempted and the rules only apply to food service premises that operate inside the hotel and are part of a chain of 20 or more food service premises in Ontario operating under the same or substantially the same name

Liquor Licenses Regulatory Improvements

ORHMA has been a proponent of an education driven compliance approach before enforcement and has experienced success in working closely with AGCO and with industry. AGCO’s culture has progressed in a positive supportive direction. The partnership with the Best Bar None program is a testament of ORHMA’s strength in being chosen to own and drive this international licensee accreditation and award program forward.

Inclusive Price for Combo Packaging
  • ORHMA successfully won the ability for operators to advertise one inclusive price for package products such as chicken wings & beer or champagne and hotel guest room rates.

Beverage Alcohol Service Allowed Across Non-Licensed Areas
  • ORHMA brought this up as part of the open for business program and now servers are allowed to carry beverage alcohol drinks across a non- licensed area such as a courtyard or sidewalks optimizing revenues.

Price Reduction of Beer Prices to half of Ontario’s Licensees
  • ORHMA has met with several Cabinet Ministers over the years to advocate for fair treatment of Ontario licensees. In 2016, ORHMA presented our Beverage Alcohol position, illustrating the unfair treatment for Ontario’s licensees to then Finance Minister Charles Souza and met with Ed Clark Chair of the Asset Review Panel appointed by the Premier. Our goal was to reduce the price of beer paid by all licensees to that of the lower consumer price. While we were not successful for all licensees, a reduction in price was accepted and announced for smaller domestic beer licensees totaling around 9,000 businesses. ORHMA continues to pursue for a reduction of prices to all Ontario licensees along with credit card acceptance at TBS and a distribution system that enables wholesale pricing. 
ORHMA continues to be the hospitality lead on AODA supporting total inclusion in our industry and society while ensuring fair business implementation such as successfully advocating for an exemption to existing properties from the AODA build standards unless major renovations occur.

Credit Card Interchange Fees Reduced to 1.4%

Federal Government of Canada announced that it has helped secure new, separate and voluntary commitments from three payment card networks that will lead to lower costs for small and medium-sized businesses — changes largely championed by the Small Business Matters (SBM) Coalition, which ORHMA has been an active member of, representing and advocating for the hospitality industry in Ontario. Our members have voiced their concerns of paying high credit card interchange fees, in conjunction with many other hefty operating costs, therefore ORHMA was committed to lobby, with the SBM Coalition, for some relief for small and medium sized-businesses. Merchant fees (swipe fees) charged to Canada's small businesses when they process customer transactions paid by credit cards are amongst the highest in the world—ranging from 1.5% to 4% of a purchase. Particularly for small business, these costs constrain their ability to invest in their businesses, their ability to hire new employees and result in increased consumer prices, even for those consumers paying by cash or debit. 

Drive Thru Challenges

For over a decade, restaurant drive-thru (DT) window service has been under scrutiny by municipal governments on issues including noise, traffic, pedestrian safety and litter.  Many Ontario municipalities have attempted to address these issues through the drafting of prescriptive by-laws, urban design guidelines and stricter site plan controls, right up to attempts to outright ban drive-thrus at the level of the Official Plan. 

ORHMA, together with national brands, were monitoring and participating in planning meetings that directly impact drive-thrus. In 2004, the ORHMA formed and is involved in a Drive Thru Coalition (DTC) composed of some of Canada’s largest industry representatives to ensure the municipal challenges are pro- actively stopped. Furthermore, two separate teams of professional planners have been retained and longstanding representation from two very effective municipal legal experts.  The planner and legal experts worked directly with ORHMA. of creating or completing a review of their Official Plan, Secondary Plan, Zoning By-Law, Housekeeping Amendments and/or Urban Design Guidelines. A compliment to the legal and planning expertise is the brand representation and collaboration within the coalition working with ORHMA's framework.  Many city hall deputations by ORHMA and the planners at times along with several local franchisees have successfully kept drive thrus open for business throughout the province.

Short Term Rental Work

ORHMA continues to be a key advocate for Short Term Rental regulations to ensure that the sector operates within municipal rules that includes the elimination of commercialization. ORHMA has shown success in being involved at the municipal level and will continue to so in 2020 in a number of emerging destinations.