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Private members bill calls for new criminal offence of assaulting a first responder in Canada

If someone assaults or murders an on-duty police officer in Canada, the offence is considered more serious than if the victim was a civilian. Now the MP for New Westminster-Burnaby Peter Julian wants those same laws extended to firefighters and paramedics.

He has tabled Bill C-345 which calls for three changes to the criminal code., a move that comes as some first responder are reporting increased violence and danger.

“First off, it means an automatic charge of first-degree murder in the event of an assault that causes the death of a first responder, a firefighter or a paramedic in the line of duty,” said Julian. “Secondly, what it does is increase penalties for assaults against firefighters and paramedics, and thirdly it creates a new offence in the criminal code of assault against a first responder.”

The bill is being applauded by local firefighters, who are often the first on the scene of at medical and mental health calls that can turn violent.

“We know our job is inherently dangerous, but when we respond to calls for help, we should not have to be faced with the potential for violence or assaults,” said Shane Poole, the president of New Westminster Firefighters Local 256.

“I stand behind this proposed legislation that it will help protect firefighters and paramedics from violence. It’s time to include first responders in the same level of protection as peace officers,” said the president of the BC Professional Firefighters Association Todd Schierling.

Julian will spent the summer rallying support for bill C-345 with his colleagues in the House of Commons.

“There are bills where there is a consensus and unanimity, and these kinds of bills, as we have seen over the course of the past couple of years, can be passed within a few months by all members of parliament,” said Julian, adding if the bill gets unanimous consent, it could be passed as early as this fall.

New protections can’t come soon enough for first responders who say their job has become increasingly dangerous.

“There is a role for the federal government to play in this issue by amending the Criminal Code of Canada to facilitate stricter penalties for those who assault on-duty firefighters and paramedics,” said Schierling. “Such provisions serve as a deterrent to help, and make emergency responders safer while protecting Canadians.” Top Stories

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