Lise Vaugeois MPP, Thunder Bay–Superior North

Government of Ontario

Poor French language services putting northern jobs at risk: Bourgouin

Published on March 2, 2023

QUEEN’S PARK - In light of Francophonie Month, MPP Guy Bourgouin, (Mushkegowuk—James Bay) NDP critic for Francophone Affairs, used Question Period to draw attention to the inadequacies of the French language version of the Smart Serve program. Many people, including those with high proficiency in French, have failed the exam due to ambiguous and poorly posed questions.

Bourgouin has received many negative letters from supporters regarding the French content of Ontario’s Smart Serve Program, the province’s alcohol sales training program. He was contacted by a franco-Ontarian constituent who has a Bachelor’s in Communications and was having trouble with the poor translation. He shared that "the questions were very unclear and seemed to be translated by a platform such as Google Translate." According to him, the questions did not make sense, further explaining the many complaints Bourgouin and other MPPs have received lately about this issue.

Governmental changes to the Smart Serve program require servers to take the test to recertify before the end of June, and Bourgouin’s office is hearing from many Francophones that they are worried they will fail the exam and put their jobs at risk through no fault of their own.

"Once again, Francophones are at a disadvantage in this province," Bourgouin said during Question Period. He put pressure on Ford’s Conservative government, asking, "What will the government do to address this problem and ensure fair success for Francophones in this province? Once this course is revised, will you allow an extended period for Francophones, and will you remove the additional fees that may follow for those who have failed more than twice?"

Bourgouin’s office has written a formal letter to Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney about the shortcomings of the French version of the exam. He has requested the exam be corrected immediately and that the deadline be extended to give Francophones a chance to retake the same exam.