Reducing Assaults on Public Transit Employees

ATU 107’s President Eric Tuck on Bill S-221

Another good interview on Bill S-221. This one is by President Eric Tuck of Local 107 Hamilton. Although this was pre Bill S-221 becoming law, Brother Tuck captured the issue very well and the interviewer was very knowledgeable on the assault issue.

Edmonton Sun: New federal law to grant judges power to more severely punish those who assault city transit drivers

Thank you to all our affiliate locals that have had an opportunity to address the media regarding the passing of Bill S-221. If you have an address or copy of your interviews or statements, please foreword them to me for posting.
President Steve Bradshaw of Local 569 captured the essence of the work done by our affiliates, allies and the Canadian Council very well in this article. Additionally he took the opportunity to explain that our next step is to educate to ensure this law is now enforced.
The Canadian Council looks forward to working with all our members to make sure this happens and we utilize this law to better protect our members on the job and the public we serve.
New federal law to grant judges power to more severely punish those who assault

Summary of S-221

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to require a court to consider the fact that the victim of an assault is a public transit operator to be an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing.
Parliament of Canada Web Site – Site Web du Parlement du Canada
2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

62-63 Elizabeth II, 2013-2014
BILL S-221
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (assaults against public transit operators)
Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
L.R., ch. C-46
1. The Criminal Code is amended by adding the following after section 269:
Aggravating circumstance — assault against a public transit operator
269.01 (1) When a court imposes a sentence for an offence referred to in paragraph 264.1(1)(a) or any of sections 266 to 269, it shall consider as an aggravating circumstance the fact that the victim of the offence was, at the time of the commission of the offence, a public transit operator engaged in the performance of his or her duty.
(2) The following definitions apply in this section.
“public transit operator”
“public transit operator” means an individual who operates a vehicle used in the provision of passenger transportation services to the public, and includes an individual who operates a school bus.
“vehicle” includes a bus, paratransit vehicle, licensed taxi cab, train, subway, tram and ferry.
Published under authority of the Senate of Canada

News Release from The Honourable Robert Runciman

The Honourable Robert Runciman
L’honorable Robert Runciman
Immediate release
OTTAWA, February 16, 2015 – Senator Bob Runciman’s bill to protect public transit operators passed Third Reading in the House of Commons today with unanimous support.
Because Bill S-221 originated in the Senate, it has now passed all steps of the legislative process and will become law after receiving Royal Assent.
“That this bill has gone through both Houses of Parliament in only nine months shows the power of a good idea,” Runciman said, noting the bill received unanimous approval in both the Senate and the House of Commons.
The bill amends the Criminal Code to make it an aggravating circumstance that must be considered by the judge if the victim of an assault is a public transit operator, which is defined to include drivers of not just city buses and streetcars, but also school buses and taxi drivers.
Some 2,000 public transit operators are assaulted every year in Canada and Runciman introduced the bill after examining several cases of serious assaults resulting in light sentences.
“The assault of a public transit operator is a serious public safety problem,” Runciman said. “These people are piloting large vehicles filled with passengers down busy city streets. They are not in a position to defend themselves. It’s not just them at risk, but also passengers, other motorists and pedestrians.”
Runciman said he hopes the legislation sends a clear message that the current sentences for these types of assault – often no jail time at all for assaults that result in months of time off work due to injury – are not adequate.
The bill’s passage was welcomed by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), both of which have been pushing for such legislation for some time.
“This new law will improve the safety of transit operators, passengers and other road users. It will contribute to increasing consistency and predictability in sentencing across the country for similar types of assaults,” said Michael Roschlau, President and CEO of CUTA.
“ATU Canada is very excited about the passing of Bill S-221 today. As a result of Senator Runciman’s commitment to this bill, which has been evident since we first met with him in November 2013, there will soon be protection for transit operators and the general public under Canada’s Criminal Code and law enforcement will have the tools they need to dole out tougher sentences. Although for ATU Canada this has been 10 years in the making, the walk from Senator Runciman’s office to the Justice office feels like it was a short walk indeed,” said Mike Mahar, Director, ATU Canada.

This is the second bill introduced by Runciman that has cleared Parliament. His bill to remove the Criminal Code prohibition against mixed martial arts became law in June 2013.
“I am proud of this bill, but I am also proud of the Senate’s role in ensuring this legislation passed. Similar bills have languished in the House of Commons,” Runciman said. “I think it’s a strong indicator of the important function the Senate can play in bringing important issues to the forefront.”

Bill S-221 to Protect Transit Operators Against Assaults Soon to Become Law

ETOBICOKE, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Feb. 16, 2015) – ATU Canada’s members applaud the unanimous passing at Third Reading of Bill S-221 in the House of Commons today.

Bill S-221 will amend the Criminal Code to make it an aggravating circumstance that the judge must consider if the victim of an assault is a public transit operator, which is defined to include drivers of not just city and inter city buses and surface rail, but also school buses, taxis, ferries and subways.

“The passage of this bill is the culmination of years of hard work by the ATU. They deserve a lot of credit for bringing this issue to the attention of Parliamentarians and pushing hard in support of this legislation,” said Senator Bob Runciman, who introduced Bill S-221.

The Bill, which was introduced in the Senate on May 8, 2014 by Senator Runciman, was introduced in to the House of Commons on September 26 by Conservative MP Corneliu Chisu (Pickering-Scarborough East). “We are grateful to Senator Runciman who introduced this Bill in the Senate and to Mr. Chisu who agreed to sponsor this Bill in the House of Commons,” said Mike Mahar, Director of the Amalgamated Transit Union Canadian Council (ATU Canada). “I am very pleased that Bill S-221 has passed Third Reading with all party support and will soon become law and I would like to thank Senator Runciman for his hard work in making this Bill a reality.”

“This piece of legislation will enable judges to dole out tougher sentences to those that seek to harm public transit operators while carrying out their duties. Not only does it protect the transit operators at their place of work, but also the public who place their trust and lives in the hands of our transit operators each and every day,” said Corneliu Chisu, MP.

“The passage of such a Bill has been a priority of ATU Canada for close to a decade as each year over 2,000 of our members have been the victims of life altering and career ending assaults,” said Mahar. The impact on their families and industry as a whole is exacerbated by the light sentences the assailants have received in the past. When this Bill becomes law both the public and operators will feel safer, and law enforcement will have the tools they need to impose tougher sentences.”

Bill S-221 to Protect Transit Operators Against Assaults Soon to Become Law