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Proposed Alberta bill would make fuel pre-payment mandatory

The safety of gas station and convenience store employees is the focus of Bill 19 introduced in the Alberta legislature Monday. Over the last three years five such workers were killed on the job and three were injured.

Labour minister Christina Gray says Bill 19 would make fuel pre-payment mandatory across the province. It’s a move she expects will reduce the potential for violence related to fuel thefts.

“We know this will be an adjustment for many retailers in Alberta. Our goal is to protect workers not create hardships for owners. Prepayment options do not always require expensive pump upgrades. Customers can pay at the pump if that technology is available or they can pay the attendant before fueling.”

According to Gray, the bill allows room for Occupational Health and Safety to assess unique situations, like the “handful” of service stations around the province that don’t have the ability to control their pumps from inside. Any plan OHS approved would still ensure workers safety was a priority.

Gray said part of preparing for this legislation included 250 OHS visits around the province where they assessed the violence prevention plans that were already in place.

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“My Occupational Health and Safety team and officers will work with retailers and owners to help them understand and implement these changes as well as the already required hazard assessments that are part of the health and safety code.”

The bill also aims to protects against robberies by requiring retailers that are open overnight to meet minimum safety standards. Those include time lock safes, tobacco product limits and personal emergency signal monitors. After British Columbia brought in mandatory pre-payment at their gas stations in 2008, Gray says gas and dash events were “virtually eliminated”.

Husky stations across Alberta made pre-payment mandatory at their stations across last month and say their stations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario will follow in the coming weeks. Lawrence Richler with Husky Energy says the move was prompted by the death of Surinder Pal Singh in October 2015. The Edmonton gas station owner died after a “dispute with a customer over payment for fuel.”

Alberta Associations of Chiefs of Police President Rod Knecht said he was proud to support the Bill.

“It’s so rare that we have a clear, established and highly effective solution to a common crime. Implementing that solution just makes good sense.”

He also notes the pressure these sorts of crimes put on police. Knecht estimates Edmonton will see 700 gas and dashes in one year and says this could allow officers more time to focus on other serious crimes.

If passed, the new measures are expected to go into effect June 1, 2018.

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