Representatives of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) appeared before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Wednesday to testify in support of Bill S-221, an act to amend the criminal code regarding assaults against public transit operators.
CUTA, together with representatives from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Unifor, and the City of Ottawa, emphasized the importance of consistent and appropriate sentencing for those who commit assaults against transit operators.
With over 2,000 assaults per year nationwide, an average of five per day, driver assaults is clearly a concern, not only for transit systems in protecting their employees, but a wider concern for public safety, said CUTA officials.
"Our stats show that in 2012, nearly 80% of crimes against transit employees occurred on in vehicles" said Patrick Leclerc, VP, strategic development, at CUTA, who spoke at to the Senate Committee. "Multiply the number of incidents by the number of passengers boarding transit systems every year, and you quickly understand the real risk and threat these assaults represent in terms of public safety."
Predictable sentencing and penalties for those who commit assaults against transit operators would be an added tool for transit agencies in their efforts towards protecting employees and the Canadian public. "CUTA and our members are also working diligently to put in place other preventive security measures" Leclerc mentioned, referring to closed circuit television cameras and increased security personnel as examples.
The issue has been at the forefront of CUTA's efforts to support and represent the transit industry and its members, which include nearly all transit systems across Canada.