Safety for employees and customers is behind Husky Energy’s decision to make all of its corporate gas stations in Alberta prepay before fuelling at the pumps.
In the Border City, the prepay policy applies to three corporate sites along Highway 16, but not to other independent stations in the city.
The east side store on Highway 16 in Saskatchewan will be full serve prepay, while the Husky Travel Centre and the west-end location by McDonalds in Alberta will be self serve prepay.
The new policy, now in effect at about 100 stations in Alberta, means customers will be required to pay before fuelling with cash, debit or credit cards either in the store or at the pump.
“We are taking this step to minimize the risk to attendants and the public associated with fuel payments, in light of a number of tragic deaths over the past few years,” said Husky spokesperson Kim Guttormson with the new policy announced on Sept. 19.
“We lost a member of our team two years ago, which deeply affected everyone at Husky,” she said.
Edmonton Husky gas retailer Surinder Pal Singh, 61, died of head injuries after trying to stop a customer he believe didn’t pay for goods in October, 2015.
The decision to go prepay follows a successful pilot in Edmonton with plans to roll out the program into Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario over the next few months.
The pilot helped Husky determine how best to train attendants and educate customers about prepayment.
“More than half our customers already choose to pay before fuelling up,” said Guttormson who noted attendants will still be needed in the stores.
Husky’s prepaid formula could prompt Alberta to legislate prepay for all stations in the province just as B.C. did in 2008.
“We believe this is the right thing to do and, through our industry association, have encouraged other operators to take this action,” said Guttormson.
“We have also informed provincial governments of our plan.”
“We commend Husky Energy for showing leadership on this issue and taking steps to improve the safety for their employees,” said Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray in a statement.
“Every Albertan should be able to come home safely at the end of their work day.
“Our government remains committed to addressing violence at gas stations and convenience stores.”
In another incident, Calgary Centex gas station attendant Maryam Rashidi was killed in June of 2015 when she tried to stop a man from driving away without paying for fuel.
Gray said Alberta Labour has since had numerous discussions with industry and labour groups to explore ways to improve worker safety in gas stations and convenience stores.
The government has held two stakeholder consultations on the issue of safety in gas stations and convenience stores, one in October 2016 and one in July 2017.
“We are reviewing the results of these discussions as we determine our next steps,” said Gray.