Doug de Patie is beyond frustrated that it seems to take death before legislators take action on pay-before-you-pump legislation to protect workers from gas-and-dash criminals.
De Patie has been a vocal lobbyist for the policy change since his son Grant, a gas station attendant, was dragged more than seven kilometres under a stolen car during a gas-and-dash robbery for $12 worth of fuel in Maple Ridge on March 8, 2005.
Due in large part to de Patie’s efforts, the B.C. government instituted a pay-first policy for gas stations in 2008, widely known as Grant’s Law. But de Patie has been frustrated in his attempts to get similar legislation passed across the country.
Now another death in Toronto has de Patie, who now lives in Blind Bay, renewing his calls for laws to protect gas station workers. Jayesh Prajapati, 44, died Sept. 16 after he was hit by an SUV at the Shell station where he worked. The driver was fleeing without paying for $112 worth of gas.
“It’s taken two deaths, two deaths that could have been prevented to get us to this point,” says de Patie, who admits to feeling bitterness and even a sense of guilt over Prajapati’s death.
“I’ve talked to Ontario before, I’ve had discussions with ministers of labour, but I wonder if I didn’t try hard enough. Now that there has been a death in that province, we’re seeing some action.”
Mike Colle, a Liberal member of the Ontario legislature, is formulating a private member’s bill that would require drivers to pay up front for their gas.
“Pay-before-you-pump works,” says de Patie. “Since the legislation, the crime of gas-and-dash has been reduced to zero, as long as the station is in compliance.”
There have been arguments made against the pay-before-you-pump law, including the potential cost to gas station owners to convert gas pumps to accommodate a pay-first system. But what really bothers de Patie is the notion that the pay-first system might inconvenience drivers.
“It’s a few seconds for people against the loss of someone’s son or husband,” he says.
De Patie is also hoping that if the law passes in Ontario, it may catch on in other provinces as well.
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