Uber Forced to Play Waiting Game in Edmonton

Uber has said it will pull out of Alberta on Tuesday if the provincial government does not help the company to become legal in Edmonton. The city voted to legalize the UberX service last month, but Uber has been able to meet the agreed criteria for legalization because Albertan authorities will not amend bylaws to accommodate the company.

The stipulations involved UberX drivers agreeing to specific licenses, vehicle checks, and to having a sufficient and legal auto insurance policy. The latter of those presented Uber with the biggest challenge, but the company says it found a private insurance company willing to offer a policy. It is though that Intact Insurance was the provider, finalizing a collaboration started with Uber late last year.

“The insurance policy that we have is a commercial policy that works for ride sharing and quite frankly, doesn’t add any material costs to drivers,” Ramit Kar, Uber Alberta’s general manager, said.

Alberta originally said that it could not guarantee that Uber would receive its auto insurance coverage for the March 1 date which Edmonton set for legalizing the company. The finance ministry in the province released a statement last week that said:

“The Superintendent of Insurance has been involved in constructive discussions with Intact insurance,” the statement said. “The issue remains under review and no agreement been reached.”

Now Alberta has put a firmer timeframe on when a bylaw to accommodate Uber will be ready, with Transportation Minister Brian Mason saying the province had rejected Uber’s request to have the bylaw ready for March.

“It’s our position that people driving vehicles for commercial purposes are not using their vehicles for the same purposes as those with a Class 5 license,” Mason said.

“The bottom line is that the Class 4 requirement is essential for the safety of both passengers and drivers.”
While Toronto voted to regulate Uber, the company continues to operate while Ontario’s largest city prepares those bylaws. It is unlikely the U.S. ride-sharing service will continue in Alberta and has already said it could pull out of the market this week. Even if the city amends bylaws, it is not clear Uber would accept the changes. In Calgary last week the company rejected accommodating bylaw changes and decided to pull out of the city.

Uber has requested that the city of Edmonton postpone its bylaw until June 1st, which is after the province says it will have prepared a bylaw. Edmonton authorities have yet to respond.