Amendment to the Criminal Code requires judges to consider a transit driver’s occupation as an “aggravating circumstance” in sentencing.
Ottawa (02 March 2015) — Workers who drive buses, paratransit vehicles, taxis, subways, street cars and ferries will now have greater protection under the law against assaults. The legislation, Bill S-221, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Assaults against public transit operators), has received royal assent.
Workers should be safe on the job
Testimony at the Senate committee revealed that there are approximately 2,000 reported assaults on bus drivers each year. Union members have been lobbying for protections for more than a decade.
Workers have been threatened, had coffee thrown at them, been slapped, kicked, stabbed, and shot at on their routes.
While the harsher penalties for assaults may be a deterrent, there are other ways to protect workers from harm. A Unifor local in Vancouver is working with the employer on a pilot project that would place a safety shield between drivers and passengers, as well as a program to identify potentially volatile situations and to develop strategies to diffuse them.
Unfortunately, workers who collect fares at stations are not covered under this legislation.
The legislation was prompted by a vicious assault on a bus driver in Ottawa by a man who dragged the driver out of his bus to continue the beating on the street.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE