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Online-only testing a barrier in Ontario's Smart Serve recertification process


Ontarians who handle alcohol must retake their Smart Serve test by the end of June, as part of the province’s five-year recertification rules that came into effect last summer.

Officials said the online-only testing option is inaccessible to many, including seniors that work in the bar industry or those in remote areas.

One northern MPP told CTV News that the change is going to have a negative impact on seniors clubs in the region.

“I have at least five clubs, just in Nickel Belt, who have made it really clear to me they will have to close their doors, if their volunteers are not able to renew their Smart Serve,” said Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas.

Gélinas said she has spoken with Ontario’s Attorney General, who oversees smart serve, but didn’t see any meaningful changes.

Jim Nault, the event and bar manager for the Schumacher Lions Club, told CTV News he was already "miffed" at having to retake his Smart Serve certification after more than 25 years.

On top of that, he said many of his volunteer servers are worried their lack of access to and knowledge of technology will mean they won’t be able to continue working at the club.

“As it stands, I have about 20 people that have their Smart Serve. As of July 31, I may have maybe 10,” said Nault.

He said his volunteers are having trouble navigating the technology requirements, since Smart Serve only offers online testing and electronic certificates.

Nault said he worries it will affect staffing for events, but Gélinas said the situation is not unique and may be worse in some ridings, including her own.

Gélinas said while Contact North does offer computer access across the region, many seniors fail the online tests because they can’t handle the technology, including requirements to look at their screen the entire time.

“We had somebody from the LCBO come in … he went through all the videos with us, everything else,” said Nault.

“Then we all sat down, he gave us all the tests, he watched us write the tests and he certified all of those tests. And we all got our license. Now, why can’t they do that again?”

Nault added many prefer to learn in-person.

Smart Serve does offer in-person classes, but none are available in the northeast and the classes do not include testing.

“They should be allowed to do their exam on paper, like they have always done. Smart Serve is not willing to do this,” said Gélinas

CTV News reached out to the Attorney General’s office and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for comment, but has yet to receive a response from either. Top Stories

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