Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Transit drivers win greater protection with Bill S-221

News Release
Transit drivers win greater protection with Bill S-221
Monday, February 16, 2015

Ottawa—The adoption of Bill S-221 today by the House of Commons is an important step towards
protecting front-line transit operators, says Unifor. The union has been working with all parties in both
the Senate and the House of Commons to win amendments to the Criminal Code to include options for
stiffer penalties for those convicted of assaulting drivers.

“Everyone should be safe at work,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Bus and taxi drivers
provide a very valuable public service, and they shouldn’t have to face violence in their workplace.”
Bill S-221 amends the Criminal Code to require judges to consider a transit driver’s occupation as an
“aggravating circumstance” in sentencing.

“Workplace health and safety is a non-partisan issue, and we’re thrilled that every party could get
behind Bill S-221,” said Nathan Woods, a transit operator in Vancouver and President of Unifor Local
111. “Many transit operators have suffered horrible assaults. We can do more to improve their safety,
but this is an important step.”

Woods testified in 2014 to Senate committee that approximately 2000 bus driver assaults are reported
each year in Canada. Canadian taxi drivers had the highest rate of occupational-related homicide in the
country in 2011, higher than police officers.

Unifor says that changes to the Criminal Code alone will not eliminate workplace assaults. For example,
Local 111 is working with the employer in Metro Vancouver to implement a trial period with a safety
shield between drivers and passengers. Combined with a "Violent Incident Prevention" program to
identify potentially violent situations and strategies to defuse them, transit operators are actively
involved in shaping workplace health and safety.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was
formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy
and Paperworkers unions merged.
For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at 778-903-6549
(cell) or Ian.Boyko@Unifor.org