(October 2016)

Ontario law requires employees of retail stores who are involved in the sale and sampling of alcohol to complete a server training course approved by the Board of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). This requirement includes staff at authorized grocery stores, on-site and off-site manufacturer retail stores, and staff selling wine at farmers’ markets.

Since 1995, Smart Serve® has been the primary approved server training course in Ontario. Over the years, Smart Serve Ontario has reliably provided modernized training and certification for the Ontario hospitality industry. The AGCO hereby advises that the Board has recently approved a new module to be added to the Smart Serve training, designed specifically for retail store staff. The inclusion of new retail-specific content is intended to ensure that staff working in the alcohol retail sector have the necessary knowledge, skills and training to sell and serve alcohol responsibly in a retail environment.

Smart Serve Ontario is in the process of incorporating the new retail training module into its program, and it anticipates launching the new enhanced program by November 10, 2016. Smart Serve Ontario will communicate further information, including how and when the new training can be accessed, in the coming weeks.

Once the new retail training is in place, all staff who sell or serve alcohol in a retail store licensed or authorized by the AGCO will be expected to take the necessary steps to complete the additional training. For those who already have their Smart Serve certification, there will be no additional cost for completing this additional training. Those not yet certified under Smart Serve will be required to complete the entire Smart Serve program, which includes the current content as well as the new retail training. Note there will be no change to the current cost of the overall Smart Serve training program.

The AGCO remains committed to ensuring that alcohol is sold and served in a socially responsible manner, and these enhancements to Ontario’s server training requirements support this ongoing objective.


For more information on mandatory server training requirements, please email or call the AGCO’s Customer Service Department at 416 326-8700 (GTA) or 1 800 522-2876 (toll-free in Ontario).


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