Operator assault bill gets closer to becoming law
Bill passes second reading in Parliament on Oct. 29
Over the past five years, the TTC has implemented a number of initiatives to address assaults against Operators. The initiatives have reduced these occurrences, but they remain at a high level. In the spring of 2011, the TTC wrote to the Federal Government seeking amendments to the Criminal Code to better protect Operators.
Bill S-221 is a Bill first introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Runciman. The Bill provides that the court shall consider it “an aggravating circumstance for the purpose of sentencing if the victim of assault is a public transit operator engaged in the performance of his or her duty.”
The TTC and its unions have fully supported this Bill. As part of Transit Awareness Days sponsored by CUTA, General Counsel Brian Leck recently attended in Ottawa and delivered a presentation to MPs and senior public servants advocating for passage of the Bill, and together with Chief Financial and Administration Officer Vincent Rodo, met with a number of MPs to request their vote in favour of the Bill. On Oct. 29, Bill S-221 unanimously passed second reading in Parliament, and will proceed to Committee Hearings. General Counsel will be in attendance and make submissions at these Hearings.
The issue of assaults against Operators is an extremely important one. Transit Operators are often operating large vehicles full of passengers on busy urban roads. The safety of the Operators, the passengers, and the public is at risk each time such an assault occurs. The assaults occur in the Operator’s workplace, and can have an extensive impact on them. In a society that enshrines respect and dignity, the status quo should not be tolerated. As a measure to further and better protect our Operators, the TTC needs Bill S-221 to become the law of the land.
The following news release was issued by the Canadian Urban Transit Association on Oct. 30:
BUS OPERATOR BILL GAINS MOMENTUM: ALL PARTIES ON BOARD
Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 09:00 ET
OTTAWA, ONTARIO—(Marketwired – Oct. 30, 2014) - Unanimous support from all political parties in the House of Commons last night pushed forward legislation on transit operator safety. Bill S-221 would amend the Criminal Code to require courts to consider it an aggravating circumstance for the purpose of sentencing if the victim of an assault is a public transit operator engaged in the performance of his or her duty.
The legislation has received ongoing support from the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) and other transit groups since being tabled in May this year. Voted at 2nd reading with unanimous support from parliamentarians, the bill will now be sent to committee for study.
“We are pleased to see that the coordinated efforts of ATU, UNIFOR, and CUTA are bringing us one step closer to passing this important bill, which is backed by the entire transit industry” says Michael Roschlau, President and CEO of CUTA. He adds “this bill has progressed more quickly through the legislative process than any other similar bill introduced in the past decade.”
“Bill S-221 has the full support of the B.C. Associations of Chiefs of Police and the Unions involved including UNIFOR” said Neil Dubord, Chief Officer of Metro Vancouver Transit Police. “As Victor Hugo once said” adds Dubord “Every idea has its time” and the time is right for Bill S-221 for three very compelling reasons: Protection of public transit operators; Public Safety; and the trust and confidence of passengers using public transportation. ”
The bill will now make its way to the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights, where it will have 60 days to report back to Parliament before receiving final approval in the House.
It will be imperative for Bill S-221 not to be delayed at any point in the process as it runs the chance of being discontinued pending the timing of the 2015 federal election.