Barmaid fired for stopping drunk is public face of education campaign
Published Friday, September 13, 2013 12:52PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 13, 2013 8:32PM EDT
A South Shore woman who lost her job as a barmaid has been offered a new position teaching bar and restaurant staff how to identify drunk customers.
Valerie Couturier, 23, was fired in mid-August from her position at a restaurant in Boucherville called Le Chene Blanc. She said it was because she stopped a customer who was obviously in no state to drive.
"He had the keys in his hands and I though 'Oh my god, is he leaving?' He said 'Yes I'm leaving,' I said 'You should not leave. I'll call a taxi if you want,'" said Couturier.
He refused to hand over his keys, so Couturier phoned police to prevent him from driving drunk.
Couturier said that confrontation led to her being fired by her employers. Dave Baillargeon and Eric LaFlamme disagree as to their reasons for firing Couturier after eight months of work, but will not tell CTV Montreal what that reason is.
Now Couturier has a new job: spokesperson for the Educ-Alcool campaign backed by Quebec's Hotel and Restaurant Management School.
The four-hour course teaches the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and how to deal with it, for bartenders, waiters, restaurant owners or heavy drinkers.
Most convicted drunk drivers are usually forced to take the course as part of their probation.
In other provinces and countries similar initiatives are mandatory for restaurant/bar workers and they have shown a reduction in drunk-driving incidents.
However the program is not mandatory in Quebec.
"There is no excuse, no reason anyone could say no to such a thing, that goes without saying, for something that's been shown to be extremely efficient," said Hubert Sacy of Educ-Alcool.
"It saves lives, and it's also good business decision so we can't see why Quebec can't be as good as most other provinces and most developed countries."
One expert on the issue of alcohol liability stressed that bar owners should take the question seriously, or risk paying a hefty cost.
“A few years back the Supreme Court of Canada dealt with the ‘who’ issue of host liability and now bars and restaurants across Canada are very vigilant about those two things,” lawyer Lawrence Greenspon told CTV News.
Meanwhile Couturier harbours no ill-feelings toward her former employers at the Chene Blanc and says she does not want her job back.
She also says she is determined to make a difference by raising awareness of the dangers of over-consumption and drunk driving.