In the Fall of 2021, PATH Employment Services’ colleagues MacKenzie Townsend and Joel McKinley noted a desperate need for restaurant employees in the Hamilton area. Within a week’s time, there were over 1300 unique restaurant jobs that were posted on Indeed, and that need continues to grow. According to Tourism SkillsNet Ontario there will be a 51% increase in demand for chefs and cooks.

To get started, Joel and MacKenzie conducted research to see where the bottleneck in the industry had formed and came to the conclusion that Certification, Training, and Experience had been the defining factors that were missing- so the Five Stars Restaurant Training and Empowerment Program was born. The program consists of 5 key components: On-the-Job Work Experience, Training and Certifications, Wraparound Mental Health Support, Employability Skills, and Life Skills.

Wrap-around Mental Health supports are provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association – Hamilton Branch. This type of support has been stretched thin with the coming of COVID-19. Participants will receive Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills (DBT) administered by a Full Time Mental Health Worker who is available for clients to access throughout the duration of the program for more long-term support. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has proven to be effective in helping people with a variety of disabilities related to mental health including depression, panic/anxiety disorders, addictions, behavior compulsions, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mood disorders, phobias, and other similar behavioral, emotional, and mental health challenges. It has been found that lack of employment often leads to mental health barriers due to lack of social interaction/support, lack of financial stability, low motivation, and feelings of inadequacy. Thus, allowing our participants to assess and participate in DBT and wraparound supports will hopefully aid in their success throughout this program and their employment journey.
Five Stars has also partnered with community leaders such as Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) and Mohawk College Enterprise to help deliver hands on training for the program including Line Cook Training and Conflict Resolution. This government funded program will provide People with Disabilities/Mental Health challenges with 4 weeks of paid in-class specialized training and certifications, and 2 weeks of 30 hours/per week paid-on-the-job placement experience.

There are 13 spots available for each cohort (8 cohorts over the next 12 months). Those selected in the interview process will have the advantage of participation in this unique and career enhancing opportunity. Once a participant has completed the program, they will have all of the Certifications needed to work within the Ontario Restaurant Sector. They will then be transferred to our in-program Job Developer for placement in a local restaurant, diner, café, or banquet centre. A wage subsidy will be offered to any participating employer who hires a Five Stars client to help offset training costs for onboarding someone new to the industry.

For more information, please contact Michelle at or 905-528-6611 Ext. 233 or visit: