Meet Operation Lifesaver's Advisory Committee: Read an interview with committee member Rob Smith

This week we continue our series of blog posts featuring interviews with the members of the Operation Lifesaver Advisory Committee. You’ll get to know the dedicated people who work together to educate Canadians on rail safety, with the goal of preventing railway related injuries and deaths. These committee members work to develop Operation Lifesaver’s national direction, set goals and priorities and offer advice to National Director, Dan Di Tota, on how best to develop and implement Operation Lifesaver’s programs. This week’s interview is with Rob Smith, National Legislative Director for Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. The Teamsters union represents 125,000 Canadians; over 16,000 of those members work in the rail industry and are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. On when he joined the Advisory Committee and how it happened: “I’ve been with the Advisory Committee as a full member since September 2010. Before that, I was an alternate member. Prior to my current position, I was the Chairman for the Provincial Legislative of Ontario, also with Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, and in this role I was acting alternate to the National Legislative Director. So I did go to some meetings prior to 2010.” On why it is so important for Teamsters Canada Rail Conference to be involved with Operation Lifesaver: “In my previous job as Provincial Chairman, I dealt a lot with Workers’ Compensation cases and many of them involved crossing incidents. Many members are still off work at this time because of having been involved in fatalities or near misses. Since the members we represent work on the rails, we felt it was very important for us to be involved with Operation Lifesaver due to the focus on trespassing and crossing awareness. We want to get out the message that playing on the tracks isn’t safe and that it affects our members as well. They are the forgotten victims because they have to carry this with them every day. Most of our members are working the same mainline on a regular basis – so there’s a constant reminder. They carry it with them for their entire career and the rest of their lives.” On the Advisory Committee: “It’s really nice to see so many stakeholders in one room, doing a roundtable talk. Labour can get their views out and we can hear what comes back from the police services and Transport Canada, as well as the railways themselves. It’s a really great forum to get everything out there. We’re all kind of caught up in our own little worlds and everybody has their soapbox. The Advisory Committee provides an excellent forum to have your message heard. It’s a great committee. We all listen. I’ve already learned a great deal in the short while that I’ve been involved.” On what will be the key to Operation Lifesaver’s continuing success: “What I would really like to see is the funding for Operation Lifesaver to stay in place. I think it’s very, very important that the police services, along with the unions and the railways, continue to work together for a common goal: rail-safety and crossing incident and trespassing prevention. Keep the funding in place.” Join us again next week for an interview with Raynald Marchand, General Manager of Programs for the Canada Safety Council.