STM launches awareness campaign to foster greater respect of frontline workers

Press release

In response to the growing hostility experienced by its employees on the ground, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) launched a communications campaign today to encourage customers to be respectful of frontline employees on the job.

The campaign can be seen in the STM’s ad spaces and features frontline workers on the job in the public transit network. The messaging delivers a clear, firm reminder that STM employees deserve everyone’s respect, every day.

According to data compiled by the STM, the total number of assaults, threats, and acts of intimidation experienced by its frontline workers in the course of their duties rose by 6% between 2022 and 2023, from 328 to 348.

Says STM CEO Marie‑Claude Léonard, “Our frontline teams are our most valuable resource; without them, our transit network simply can’t function. Those same people are experiencing more and more rudeness, threats and intimidation on the job. It’s important for us to take action in response to what is clearly a growing trend. The pandemic exacerbated certain social issues and seems to have led to a more strained social climate, which has a direct impact on our employees. We’re keenly aware of the strength and dedication it takes to face those kinds of situations, day after day. The awareness campaign is a clear reminder that just like our customers, our teams deserve respect at all times.”

The local unions concerned were asked for their input to help decide what issues the campaign should address. Displays of impatience, verbal abuse, and aggressive tones and body language were the behaviours most often cited in these discussions.

“Although the majority of our customers are kind and respectful toward our teams, it’s important to understand that even small acts of hostility, repeated dozens of times a day, can have a huge impact on our employees,” says Léonard.

Campaign visuals

Tools to report

Over and above the campaign, we encourage our employees to use the channels in place to report and address harmful incidents. These include:

  • Requesting immediate help by placing a call via the control room.
  • Filling out the employee reporting form to inform the Security and Fire Safety department of recurring situations so that they can be addressed.
  • Filing charges with the support of the STM, if they wish.
  • As a reminder, there are over 2,000 cameras in our métro buildings to help security teams intervene in problematic situations and review incidents experienced by employees and customers.

The STM also has a range of measures in place to offer employees and customers the safest possible environment. Every year, new safety measures are added to the network. In the past year, those have included:

  • Hiring 16 more special constables in December, for a total of some 160 constables currently employed by the STM.
  • Creating a new safety ambassador position, with 14 ambassadors now trained and active in the transit network.
  • Having eight social workers from the City of Montréal’s mobile social mediation and intervention team travel around in the network to intervene as needed and respond to calls.
  • Adding a third hybrid (EMIC) patrol to the métro network.
  • Increasing the presence and visibility of special constables, safety ambassadors, and operations staff in a dozen specific stations and improving camera surveillance.