Alberta NDP introducing prepaid fuel bill following gas-and-dash deaths

WATCH ABOVE: Many do so already, but soon, you will have to pay before you pump gas in Alberta. Quinn Ohler reports on a bill introduced by the NDP on Monday.

The Alberta NDP is introducing legislation in the fall session that would require drivers to pay before filling up at gas stations and make violence-prevention plans mandatory at retail fuel and convenience stores.

The Act to Protect Gas and Convenience Store Workers comes after several recent fatal robberies in the province.

READ MORE: Alberta labour group pushes NDP for pay-before-you-pump gas law

On Monday, Labour Minister Christina Gray announced the new measures to better protect retail fuel and convenience store workers from violent incidents.

If pay-at-the-pump technology is not available, retailers can implement other systems like requiring customers to deposit cash or a credit card with the cashier before fuelling up. Alberta is also looking into additional security cameras and time-locked safes.

“Pre-payment eliminates the risks associated with fuel payments and we applaud the government for taking this important step to protect attendants and the public,” said Husky Energy vice-president Lawrence Richler.

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“We believe this is the right thing to do — and so do the people working at our stations.”

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If passed, the new measures would come into effect on June 1, 2018.

READ MORE: Alberta NDP to introduce bills on prepaid gas, gay-straight alliances and cannabis in fall sitting

Many locations have already adopted pre-pay and violence-prevention practices or are in the process of doing so. They include safe cash-handling procedures and minimal amounts of cash available to workers, video monitoring and good visibility, time-lock safes and signs that explain those safes are being used, personal emergency transmitters for employees working alone, and working training.

Gray, vice-president of Husky Energy, Lawrence Richler and Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht, who is also on the board of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, spoke at the news conference Monday afternoon.

The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police estimates there were over 4,000 criminal fuel theft incidents across the province in 2015, an average of 12 each day.

The province said five workers have died and three others have been seriously hurt because of gas-and-dash incidents and robberies at both urban and rural locations in Alberta in the last three years.

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“Our hearts break when we see incidents of violence involving workers,” Gray said. “That’s why we are taking action to increase safety for retail fuel and convenience store workers by introducing mandatory violence-prevention programs and pre-payment options for fuel.”

On Oct. 23, 2015, Edmonton gas station owner Surinder Pal Singh, 61, was killed during an altercation at work. The death was later declared a homicide.

READ MORE: Death of gas station owner is Edmonton’s 19th homicide of 2015 

In the last three months, two workers in Alberta were killed trying to stop gas-and-dash incidents.

On Oct. 6, gas station owner Ki Yun Jo died when he was run over by the driver of a stolen cube van as the driver fled without paying for $200 in gas in Thorsby, about 60 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

READ MORE: Alberta NDP pledges quick action ‘to better protect workers’ after fatal Thorsby gas-and-dash

In August, Joshua Cody Mitchell was sentenced to 11 years in prison for running over and killing Calgary gas-station attendant Maryam Rashidi while Mitchell was trying to take off without paying.

READ MORE: Man charged in April hit and run at Sherwood Park gas station

A Husky station pump requiring drivers to pre-pay before fueling up in Edmonton, Alta. October 30, 2017.
A Husky station pump requiring drivers to pre-pay before fueling up in Edmonton, Alta. October 30, 2017. Geoff Stickle, Global News

— With files from The Canadian Press and Karen Bartko, Global News

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