OTTAWA – Today, NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby–New Westminster) tabled his Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons which would extend greater protection to public transportation workers by amending the Criminal Code of Canada to include tougher sentences for assaults in their workplace.

At a press conference, Julian was joined by NDP Transport Critic, Brian Masse (Windsor West) and representatives of the Canadian Auto Workers Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union of Canada, representing bus workers and transit operators, who reiterated their call for enhanced protection.

The Bill follows Julian’s Private Member’s Motion (M-358) tabled last spring, calling for stiffer sentences for people who assault on-duty bus workers and transit operators

“Statistics clearly show that the number of aggressions against public transportation workers is increasing,” said Julian. “Just recently a bus driver was violently attacked in Vancouver while distributing candy on Hallowe’en and later the bus was torched. Canadians need to ensure that public transportation workers are safe as well as able to maintain the maximum safety for their passengers.”

The amendment proposed by Julian’s Private Member’s Bill would empower Canada’s justice system to impose up to a twenty year sentence for assaults committed against public transportation workers. This sends a clear message that Canadians will not tolerate attacks directed against public transportation workers, who have an additional responsibility to ensure public safety in the exercise of their job.

Hundreds of attacks on bus workers and transit operators have been reported across the country. According to a 2005 survey, 36% of transit operators have been victims of physical assault. Since January 2007 alone, one bus worker was shot, while another bus worker was so severely beaten that she has no been able to return to work four months later.

“Bus workers and transit operators are particularly vulnerable to aggression,” said Masse, “and so far there has been no response at the federal level to the NDP’s call for increased protection for these workers. Tougher criminal sentencing against those who commit the serious crime of endangering the life of a bus worker and/or transit operator would help strengthen the Criminal Code, reduce the risk of violence in the workplace for bus drivers and transit operators and help assure public safety of their passengers.”