The Liquor Licence & Control Act, 2019 (LLCA) features a modernized legislative framework. Over time, the liquor sector will move to a risk-based, outcomes-based, and compliance-focused approach.

The AGCO’s liquor licence, authorization and permit holders will experience changes under the new framework. This includes changes to the licence structure.

Features of the new regulatory framework include:

  • The introduction of standards in the liquor sector
  • A new licence structure
  • Strengthened social responsibility measures

Introduction of Registrar’s Interim Standards

The LLCA supports a shift to a standards-based approach to regulation, which is the first step in creating a regulatory model that is more flexible and focuses on outcomes rather than prescriptive rules. Under the LLCA many provisions in the previous regulatory framework focusing on the operational aspects of a licence and permit holder’s business have been moved from regulation to the Registrar’s Interim Standards and Requirements for Liquor (Interim Standards). Previously, the rules that licence, permit and authorization holders must follow to comply with their AGCO licence requirements were found in statutes, regulations and Registrar Policies. In the new liquor framework, the Interim Standards will apply to all licence and permit holders in the liquor sector.

The Registrar’s Standards, once developed, will provide a more flexible, outcomes-based approach to addressing issues and shifts in the industry, while intending to provide a reduction in red tape for businesses.

The first set of standards and requirements under the LLCA are “interim” because the AGCO will soon begin working to develop the Registrar’s Standards and Requirements for Liquor that will build on the outcomes-based regulatory model enabled by the LLCA. Development of the standards will occur over the next several years and will involve significant engagement with the industry and key stakeholders.

New Licence Structure

The LLCA features a new, more flexible liquor licence structure. The AGCO now issues liquor licences for six licence categories, associated licence classes and endorsements for additional activities.

The classes and prescribed special occasions for Special Occasion Permits (SOPs) generally remain the same, with the Auction Authorization becoming an SOP class.

The AGCO has updated the iAGCO online portal to reflect the new LLCA framework, including changes to liquor licence types and certificates. As a result, licence and permit holders may notice the following changes when they access the iAGCO portal:

  • The name of some authorizations, licences and endorsements have changed.
    • AGCO licence, permit and authorization holders do not need to take any action before their scheduled renewal date.
    • The new wording will automatically be updated in iAGCO and at the time of licence renewal.

Licence holders will continue to apply for a new licence, request a change, or renew their current licence(s) in iAGCO.

Strengthened Social Responsibility Measures

The AGCO is committed to social responsibility and public protection in the liquor sector. Individuals involved in the sale, service or delivery of liquor are currently required to hold an AGCO Board-approved training certificate. Smart Serve is the only approved training program in Ontario. The AGCO is introducing a recertification requirement, starting in Summer 2022. Recertification will begin starting on July 1, 2022, but no certificates will expire until one year later, on June 30, 2023. All training certificates, including those already issued, will be valid for a five-year term before recertification is required. AGCO has adopted this industry best practice in recognition of the significant recent modernization to Ontario’s liquor sector. More information about new Smart Serve recertification requirements is available in this AGCO Information Bulletin.

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