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Federal rules needed to prevent armoured car robberies: Union

| www.cos-mag.com

Following an attempted robbery on Friday of armoured guards in Edmonton, which resulted in the shooting death of one robber, Unifor is urging the federal government to develop stronger industry safety and training laws.

"This robbery resulted in bullets being fired in a residential area," said Unifor western director Joie Warnock. "The current laws are simply not doing enough to keep armoured car workers and innocent by-standers safe." 

The attempted robbery of two GardaWorld armoured truck guards occurred at a TD Canada Trust bank in southeast Edmonton. The two male suspects unleashed pepper spray on the guards.

Isabelle Panelli, director of marketing and corporate affairs for GardaWorld, told the Canadian Press that the guards are safe and the company is providing support to them and their families.

Unifor, representing more  than 2,000 armoured car guards across Canada, is calling on federal politicians to pass  Bill C-285, a private member's bill tabled last month by Peter Julian. The bill calls for the development of comprehensive national safety and training standards for the armoured car industry, including the regulation of crew sizes, vehicle specifications and safety equipment.

"Bill C-285 calls for reasonable safeguards and regulations to be put in place," said Warnock. "Unifor is asking all parties to support it to ensure speedy passage."

Canada has witnessed more than 85 armoured car robberies since 2000, resulting in five deaths and countless physical and mental injuries, said Unifor. Including the recent Edmonton ambush, there have been 12 major armoured car robberies in the country since 2014. Each robbery has involved a two-person armoured guard crew and many have occurred in public spaces and near residential areas. 

Through its national campaign launched in 2013, Unifor has raised concerns regarding the over-use of two-person (instead of three-person) crews, especially at night and during higher-risk runs.

"Having that extra set of eyes in the vehicle, to forewarn the crew that there is suspicious activity or danger, can help prevent major catastrophes, including for the public who happen to be nearby," said Mike Armstrong, Unifor national staff representative and lead on armoured car industry matters. "If stronger workplace policies can save even one life, it's worth it."

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