A Saskatchewan MP wants to pass a private members' bill that would toughen the penalties for assaults on bus drivers.
Ralph Goodale, the province's lone Liberal MP, said he first heard of the problem from Regina and Saskatoon transit union bosses who were in Ottawa trying to raise awareness about the attacks.
The MP has spent the summer with bus drivers who have been assaulted while on the job and said he's struck by how long the psychological effects remain after the incident .
"I heard about a young woman who was grabbed by the throat and serious damage done to her larynx and windpipe," said Goodale. "It took three years before she was back to any state of normalcy."
According to the Canadian Urban Transit Association 2,061 attacks were reported in 2011.
"That's a pretty alarming number," said Goodale. "Some of these incidents would be relatively minor, in the sense that it would be verbal abuse or spitting."
Although spitting may seem harmless, Goodale said he met a bus driver in Burnaby who had to undergo months of testing to make sure he did not contract HIV.
The MP is proposing tougher sentences in the Criminal Code for those who attack public transit employees.
Goodale said with the support from the Conservatives the new bill could pass quickly this fall.
If it does pass, he said a public awareness campaign would help people understand that harming a bus driver will have serious consequences.