OTTAWA, June 18, 2014 /CNW/ - In meetings with MPs and in testimony to a Senate committee today, representatives of bus drivers and taxi drivers shared their support for S-221, a bill to amend the Criminal Code to include options for stiffer penalties for those convicted of assaulting drivers.
"Our members provide a valuable public service, but that also puts them in danger," said Nathan Woods, a transit operator working for Coast Mountain Bus in British Columbia. "We're asking for stronger deterrents to combat violence in our workplace."
Bill S-221 proposes to amend the Criminal Code to require judges to consider a transit driver's occupation as an "aggravating circumstance" in sentencing.
Woods testified that approximately 2000 bus driver assaults are reported each year in Canada. In the B.C. Lower Mainland alone there were 251 reported incidents of driver abuse between 2012 and 2013—more than half of which involved a weapon.
Canadian taxi drivers had the highest rate of occupational-related homicide in the country in 2011, higher than police officers.
Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 305,000 members, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.