Drivers may need to pre-pay for gas
Province: Proposed legislation intended to improve safety for gas station, convenience store employees
Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017 10:13 am
Drivers may have to pre-pay before filling up next year under legislation proposed by the provincial government.
If approved, the Act to Protect Gas and Convenience Store Workers would come in effect on June 1, 2018. It will require prepayment for gasoline purchases and gas stations and convenience stores will also be required to have violence-prevention plans in place.
The legislation was drawn up in response to ‘gas and dash’ incidents and robberies in communities across the province over the last three years that have resulted in five deaths and three cases where workers suffered severe injuries. Law enforcement agencies report fuel thefts have risen in Alberta in the last five years. The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police estimate there were more than 4,000 incidents across the province in 2015, an average of 12 fuel thefts per day.
“As Albertans, our hearts break when we see incidents of violence involving workers,” said Minister of labour Christina Gray. “That’s why we are taking action to increase safety for retail fuel and convenience store workers by introducing mandatory violence-prevention plans and pre-payment options for fuel. This legislation would better protect workers and prevent violent incidents from happening in Alberta.”
At locations where pay-at-the-pump technology is not available, retailers would be able to put alternative options in place, such as requiring a deposit before customers fill up.
An official with an association representing retailers says it supports the proposal, though it hopes the Province will work with retailers that don’t currently have pre-payment technology.
“We support it, anything that enhances employee safety is great, we just need to make sure it’s not black and white,” said Jennifer Stewart, President and CEO of the Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association.
Stewart said several Alberta retailers already require pre-payment for gas purchases.
However, she hopes the provincial government works with smaller, independent retailers in rural areas if the new rules are implemented.
“We just need to make sure these rural retailers don’t need to in 2018 incur huge capital costs to comply,” said Stewart.
She said not all retailers have the technology and upgrades don’t come cheap. It can cost upwards of $10,000 per pump for models that accept pre-payment, added Stewart.
“Some of those costs could be upwards of $100,000, for a small business owner they may not have access to that kind of capital,” she said.
The Province of BC requires pre-payment for gas purchases.
Stewart said BC retailers that don’t have pre-payment technology have leeway to accommodate their customers. She said they can go inside the store to pay before filling, pre-authorize purchases or they can leave their debit or credit cards with store attendants. Stewart admitted the latter option may not sit well with all consumers.
Violence-prevention plans would need to include several components, such as establishing procedures for handling cash and requiring minimal amounts of cash available to workers.
Businesses will need to have video security monitoring, as well as good visibility inside and out. Personal emergency transmitters will need to be provided to employees who work alone.
Businesses that are open between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. will need to have time-locked safes that can’t be open during those hours, as well as limited quantities of cash, lottery tickets and tobacco items available during those hours. They will also need to have signs posted stipulating those practices are in place.