Ontario will spend $1.7 million over three years to train bartenders and servers to identify and intervene in instances of sexual violence and harassment among employees and customers.

Women's Issues Minister Tracy MacCharles says the training programs will be designed and delivered by organizations in the hospitality sector as well as by experts in violence prevention.

She says restaurant and bar managers, operators and owners will also receive the training, which will teach them and their staff how to intervene in such situations in a safe way.

MacCharles says the majority of the 450,000 servers and waiters in Ontario are young women, and not all of them know exactly what sexual violence and harassment look like.

New regulations that take effect Thursday require employers to have a policy that makes it clear who would investigate if an alleged harasser is the owner or supervisor, and they must provide written results of any investigation.

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn says the range of possible responses to sexual harassment is huge, and the training programs will "empower" people to know how to deal with each situation.

"Maybe it's just reporting it to the boss or the supervisor," he said. "Maybe it's stepping in. Maybe it's saying something across the bar to somebody, just tell them: 'Look, that's pretty inappropriate. You want to stop that."'

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters at Queen's Park on Thursday that the training will help bartenders and servers to recognize behaviour that is unacceptable. The training will give them tools, she said.

"This is about creating a safe environment," she said. "It won't be anything that puts those workers at risk."