Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

March 23, 2015 11:10 ET

Government of Canada Celebrates Legislation to Ensure the Safety And Security of Hardworking Public Transit Operators

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 23, 2015) - Department of Justice Canada

Today, Justice Minister and Attorney General Peter MacKay joined by Senator Bob Runciman (Ontario), the Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State (Multiculturalism), and Corneliu Chisu, Member of Parliament for Pickering-Scarborough East met with the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Canadian Urban Transit Association to celebrate Bill S-221, which amends the Criminal Code to address assaults against public transit operators.

The Government knows that the highest priority for a government should be to help ensure the safety of its citizens. That is why it supported this new law, introduced by Senator Runciman, to target criminals who assault or commit other acts of violence against public transit operators - which include taxi, train and bus drivers. Any person convicted of assaulting a public transit operator while the victim was performing his or her duties, will now face the possibility of a more stringent punishment as these assaults will be considered aggravating circumstances.

Since 2006, the Government has introduced numerous measures to ensure that the rights of victims were brought back to the heart of the criminal justice system, including introducing Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act. It also brought in the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, a law that ensures that courts and review boards make public safety the paramount consideration when making decisions about accused persons found to be Not Criminally Responsible or unfit to stand trial.

To help ensure that the values of Canadians and the safety of the public are taken into account when it comes to the sentencing of violent offenders, the Government has also made changes to the faint hope clause that allowed murderers to apply for early parole, made changes allowing judges to impose consecutive sentences for multiple murders so that each life taken is represented in an offender's sentence, and most recently announced upcoming legislation to end automatic statutory release for violent repeat offenders.

Quick Facts

  • Bill S-221 amended the Criminal Code to create a new aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing offenders convicted of five specific offences and where the victim was at the time of the offence, a public transit operator engaged in the performance of his or her duty. The five specific Criminal Code offences include:
    • Uttering threats
    • Assault
    • Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm
    • Aggravated assault
    • Unlawfully causing bodily harm
  • This legislation which aims to further protect public transit operators received Royal Assent and came into force on February 25, 2015.
  • A 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.
  • A public vehicle can include, but is not limited to: a bus, paratransit vehicle, licensed taxi cab, train, subway, tram and ferry.

Quotes

"Our Government is proud to have supported Senator Runciman's Bill because we are committed to standing up for victims and making our streets and communities safer. Any form of assault is unacceptable, and endangering passengers, pedestrians and those operating other vehicles during the assault as well, carries even more risk. I am pleased that these measures will require the courts to consider assaults and other specific offences involving violence against public transit operators as aggravating circumstances to help ensure that those offenders receive sentences that accurately reflect the violent nature of their crimes."

Peter MacKay - Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

"Each year, far too many bus and taxi drivers are assaulted by passengers while they are simply trying to do their job. I hear this from those I meet with across our country, as well as from friends and family members in this profession. Public transit operators must be able to serve their community in a safe environment without the fear of being attacked on the job. I'm proud to be a part of a government that is standing up for them."

Tim Uppal - Minister of State (Multiculturalism)

"I have been studying this issue for more than a year and have worked with the Amalgamated Transit Union to understand the scope of the problem. This law balances the right of Parliament to provide direction to the courts and judicial discretion to protect transit operators, their passengers and the general public."

Bob Runciman - Senator, Ontario

"Protecting bus operators and taxi cab drivers from assault as they safely drive our busy streets is the goal of this legislation. The law now in force means people can commute home a little bit safer knowing that any criminals who endanger their public transit operators will face a greater force of the law. Our Government will continue to make principled decisions that reflect the values of Canadians and to help keep our streets and communities safe while keeping the rights of victims at the heart of the criminal justice system."

Corneliu Chisu - Member of Parliament, Pickering - Scarborough East

Associated Links

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (assault against public transit operators)

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Contact Information

  • Clarissa Lamb
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations Office
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207