Taking a decisive stand for public safety and the public interest

In this brief presented with regard to the bill to revise Quebec’s alcohol laws, Éduc’alcool was adamant that the Service in Action course be made mandatory for all owners of licensed establishments and their serving staff. This tried and tested course provides serious, valuable training.

All the research agrees:

  • Servers can play a determining role in reducing the number of drunk drivers and violent incidents.
  • Education and treatment programs for drinking-related problems have been found to be most effective.
  • In Oregon, the number of fatal accidents was reduced by nearly 25%.
  • The proposal to make the course mandatory has huge support in the industry and among politicians.
  • Simple encouragement does not work: in ten years, fewer than 4,000 servers (less than 7%) have taken the course.

Objections to this proposal are completely unfounded:

  1. The proposal would not entail huge costs for owners; no one is asking them to pay such costs.
  2. It would not entail excessive costs for servers. The course costs $45 and might even be less if it were made mandatory.
  3. The number of servers and turnover in the industry does not make the course inapplicable. Wherever the course is available, it is applied without any problems, and it takes only 4-5 hours to complete.
  4. It is not enough for just the owner to be informed: servers are the key to the success of the program, since they are in direct contact with customers. No one would ever suggest that a restaurant owner alone should know how to prepare food, not the hired cooks.
  5. Éduc’alcool and the ITHQ (Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec) are perfectly prepared to give the course to thousands of people at once. Through our network of certified instructors, we have the capacity to train more than 75,000 people in person in less than one year, which would probably not be necessary, since the vast majority of servers are likely to take the course online.
  6. It is not an unreasonable requirement. Every driver has a driver’s permit, and it is perfectly reasonable for a server to have a server’s permit.
  7. The course is not a useless additional burden. It is an outstanding tool that makes life easier for owners and servers, in that it makes them better able to fulfil a legal and regulatory obligation they already have.

The law should be perfectly clear and read as follows: The holder of a permit authorizing the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, other than a reunion permit, shall ensure that all the permit-holders and all persons who serve or sell alcohol have taken the Service in Action course on responsible alcohol sale and service, no later than one year following the passage of this bill. Other procedures for enforcing this provision shall be specified in the regulation that will come into effect 90 days after the law is passed.

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