OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 23, 2015) - Canada's public transit operators now have a new level added legal protection from assaults thanks to a Private Members Bill that passed through the Senate and House of Commons with the backing of the government. Bill S-221 amends the criminal code to require a court to consider the fact that, if the victim of an assault is a public transit operator, it must be considered an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing by a judge.

The new law was discussed at a press conference in Ottawa on March 23 by Minister of Justice Peter MacKay, Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal, Senator Bob Runciman, MP for Pickering-Scarborough East Corneliu Chisu, President & CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association Michael Roschlau and Director of the Amalgamated Transit Union Canadian Council Mike Mahar.

"This new law will help address the nearly 2,000 assaults reported against transit employees every year," said Daniel Bergeron, Executive Chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. "No one should have to work in fear of being assaulted or threatened by their customers and I hope that this bill will give these hardworking Canadians some comfort and peace of mind."

Coupled with the new bill is a new advertising campaign for bus stops across Canada that feature statements like "Drivers have the right to be safe too" and "Safe Public Transit. For All." Another ad features a photo of a jail cell and reads "Assaulting a bus driver could make this your next stop."

"This is a great moment for public transit operators and their families," said Michael Roschlau, President & CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. "Making judges consider the assault of a public transit operator an aggravating circumstance is another example of how this government is committed to making Canadian streets and cities safe."

About CUTA

CUTA is the collective and influential voice of public transportation in Canada, dedicated to being at the centre of urban mobility issues with all orders of government, and delivering the highest value to its members and the communities they serve. CUTA is the national association representing public transit systems, suppliers to the industry, government agencies, individuals and related organizations in Canada.

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Erin Brophy
Manager, Marketing and Communications