Transit union calls for national task force as violent attacks reach ‘crisis level’

TORONTO — Violent assaults on general public transit have reached “crisis degrees,” the president of a major Canadian transit union mentioned Wednesday, as he named for a national transit protection activity power. 

The task power need to include things like transit companies from across the state and reps from all degrees of government, claimed Amalgamated Transit Union Canada countrywide president John Di Nino. 

“These assaults, not only at the (Toronto Transit Commission) but suitable throughout the state, are actually at a disaster amount,” Di Nino mentioned in an job interview Wednesday. 

“We’re observing operator assaults, violence against transit staff, and now our riders at an alarming amount across this place.” 

A undertaking drive really should look at whether or not de-escalation instruction, harsher penalties, enhanced mental health and fitness funding, superior housing supports and better police presence could assistance avoid violence on transit, Di Nino said. 

The connect with for a endeavor power arrives immediately after a quantity of violent attacks concentrating on workers and riders on the Toronto Transit Commission. 

In current times, law enforcement have explained a woman was stabbed on a streetcar, two uniformed TTC personnel were being assaulted on their way to do the job, a TTC driver was shot with a BB gun, and a person wearing a spiritual head covering was strike at a subway station in what police allege was a loathe-enthusiastic assault. 

Last month, a girl was stabbed to dying and a different was hurt in a random attack on a Toronto subway train. 

Transit companies need to have to be transparent about the extent of the safety concern, Di Nino explained, calling for transparent reporting of violent incidents. 

“We can unwell find the money for to retain stating ‘our views and prayers’ and ‘our best wishes go’ and ‘this is a a person-off.’ That time has handed,” Di Nino reported. “We have to have to have these conversations now.”

When requested about transit protection on Tuesday, Key Minister Justin Trudeau explained the federal government will go on to perform with provinces and metropolitan areas to make certain Canadians are secure. 

“If there is a purpose for the federal govt to step up, we will no question action up,” he mentioned. “It is really something we are pleased to spouse with provinces and municipalities on.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory was set to fulfill with TTC, law enforcement and union leaders later on this week to go over transit basic safety, his push secretary reported Tuesday. 

“The mayor has been obvious: We have to put an conclusion to these functions of violence and disrespect against transit employees,” Taylor Deasley wrote in a assertion when questioned about the latest phone calls for Tory to provide in transit safety improvements. 

In addition to the situations in Toronto, Di Nino also pointed to modern experiences in Edmonton of bus motorists threatened at gunpoint. 

In that city, police have noted 35 violent occurrences on Edmonton Transit residence as properly as nine weapon-associated reports considering the fact that the commencing of 2023.

The Town of Edmonton initiated a downtown core and transit system protection plan in May possibly in reaction to amplified violence, homelessness and drug use in the spot. It executed new bylaws for travellers, momentary restrooms and extra law enforcement existence. It also set $860,000 in the direction of addressing homeless encampments.

Meanwhile, RCMP have reported five youths were being accused of sexually assaulting three others on a Halifax Transit bus in Oct.

– with documents from Angela Amato. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first released Jan. 25, 2023. 

Jordan Omstead, The Canadian Push