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Transit Workers and Riders across Canada are Under Attack

Canadians are not immune from violence and assaults on public transit like our Union has seen in the United States. In fact, Canada has seen an alarming increase of unprovoked attacks in every city from coast to coast.

Based on a report by the Canadian Urban Transit Association, there are approximately 2000 transit operator assaults annually. That number is grossly inaccurate, as there are thousands of assaults that go unreported by our members, employers, and riders. 

Unfortunately, just like what’s happening in the U.S., ATU members in Canada continue to take the brunt of this senseless violence – but over the past few months, Canada has seen a surge in the number of riders being attacked – and the assaults are getting much more severe.

In many Canadian cities, transit assaults have become a daily occurrence, and on some days, there are multiple attacks in different parts of the city. Stabbings, shootings, spitting, punching, pushing, verbal abuse, and harassment. These assaults all cause harm, but sadly many of these types of assaults never get reported because most transit agencies categorize assaults in terms of severity.

Not only are our members facing acts of violence, trauma, and emotional and psychological injuries, but service reductions and funding shortfalls will have a significant impact on our livelihood. The need for dedicated operational funding is more important now than ever, combined with some robust investments in public transit to deliver the best sustainable safety measures and tools to protect riders and our members.


Why is this happening? 

The pandemic, mental health, addiction, inflation, high interest rates, unemployment, and homelessness are all factors that may play a role in some of the acts of violence on our transit systems. Add to that service reductions and fare increases, and now people are stretched even further, leaving them angry and frustrated with some taking their anger out on our members.   

International President John Costa has been advocating for safer workplaces for years, calling out employers to do more to protect workers and riders, and ATU Canada President Di Nino joins that call to demand stronger protections for our members.

ATU Canada continues to demand immediate action from all three levels of government, and in a press release, called for a National Task Force to tackle the escalating violence on transit systems across the country. This sparked a media storm of interviews and news headlines that brought massive attention to the growing violence on transit systems. A recent poll found the majority of Canadian riders feel unsafe on public transit. 


National Task Force Meeting

The first meeting of the National Task Force was convened by Di Nino on February 9, 2023, via Zoom and included representation from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario. ATU Local representatives were also in attendance.  This is a strong start towards pushing for serious change to protect our members on the job and ensure our passengers have a safe ride.