Toronto Paramedic Association pushes for criminal code change
By Sara Miller
Toronto paramedics are calling for stronger laws and penalties to protect them while on duty after an attack last month that left one Toronto paramedic with a broken leg.
The Toronto Paramedic Association is asking for a change in the Criminal Code so that punishments for assaulting emergency medical workers would match the same penalties of assaulting a public safety worker, like a police officer.
Under the Criminal Code, a person assaulting a peace officer can be liable to imprisonment up to five years.
According to a 2011 study done by a researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital, more than two-thirds of paramedics suffered verbal, physical or sexual abuse on the job.
Toronto Paramedic Association President Geoff MacBride said stronger laws are required for paramedics due to the high level of danger on the job.
“We would be interested in gaining an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada to include paramedics on the definition of a peace officer or a public officer so we can all share the concerns and penalties,” MacBride told Humber News.
“We hope that the penalties would also be a deterrent to those who would think to assault a paramedic.”
In a statement provided to Humber News by Toronto Emergency Services, Chief Paul Raftis said Toronto EMS would support any decisions made to change legislation and protect its members.
“Toronto EMS agrees that any violence against our employees is completely unacceptable and that Toronto EMS also support any change to legislation that would protect our paramedics,” he said in the statement.
In a story reported by The Toronto Star, Paramedic Aron Sperling was assaulted last month after he responded to a call by staff at Ninki, a Japanese restaurant on Richmond Street. Staff said a man refused to pay his $35 tab and paramedics were called after the man was complaining about have a seizure. When Sperling arrived at the scene, he was attacked by the man and suffered a broken leg.
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