Edmonton - The pay-before-you-pump rules contained in Bill 19 will save lives by eliminating gas-and-dash deaths, but more work is needed to protect gas station and convenience store workers from the dangers of working alone, says Alberta’s largest worker advocacy organization.
“The evidence is overwhelming: pay-before-you-pump prevents gas-and-dash incidents and it saves lives,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “With Bill 19, the government is making changes that should have been dealt with in Alberta a decade ago. We’re glad to see the Notley government finally taking action that previous governments didn’t have the guts to address.”
McGowan says that experience from B.C. shows that pay-before-you-pump works.
“This is a rare example of a public policy that has been 100 percent effective. Since the introduction of Grant’s Law in BC in 2008 there hasn’t been a single fatality or injury in that province related to gas-and-dash robberies. In fact, by making it impossible for anyone to fill their tank before paying, the rule has essentially eliminated an entire category of crime.”
Bill 19 also includes a requirement that gas stations have so-called “violence prevention programs”. But experience has shown that these programs, by themselves, fail to properly protect gas and convenience store workers.
With that in mind, McGowan says that, in addition to pay-before-you-pump legislation, the government needs to meaningfully address the very real dangers that arise when gas station and convenience store employees work alone over the nightshift.
“When the B.C. government addressed the issue of gas-and-dash, they also adopted requirements for late-night retail stores,” said McGowan. “Specifically, they required that any gas station or convenience store employee working alone after 11 pm had to be behind a protective barrier. A physical barrier between gas station workers and the public could have prevented the deaths of Karanpal Singh Bhangu and Ricky Massin Cenabre in 2015 when the convenience stores where they worked were robbed at gun point.”
Alternatively, employers in BC had the option of having more than one worker on duty over the night shift, which discourages criminals from targeting stores for robberies. Working in pairs can also ensure workers receive needed attention in a timely manner if they are injured.
“These kind of common-sense provisions were part of the original Grant’s Law passed in BC more than a decade ago. Our government should consider enacting them here in Alberta, in addition to what they’ve announced today in Bill 19,” said McGowan.
Alberta Federation of Labour
780-278-3640 or firstname.lastname@example.org