Tag Archives: Ontario

Uber Campaign Pushes for Positive Regulations in Toronto

Toronto’s city licensing staff are gearing up to reveal its regulations that will be aimed at accommodating ride-sharing companies such as Uber. The U.S. company knows that for the most part it has customers on its side, so has started a PR campaign that is aimed at showing the city council that Torontonians want the service in their city.
On Tuesday the company launched an online petition which will be used to press councilors into supporting ride-sharing regulations. However, as other Canadian cities have shown, not any old regulations will suit Uber and the company is pushing for “smart” and “progressive” laws.

It is a make or break time for Uber in Toronto. The city voted last year to draw up regulations and amend bylaws to adopt ride-sharing services, but the city’s regulations could be ignored by Uber if the company does not agree with the changes. If that scenario unfolds then the company could leave Toronto entirely, as it has recently done in Calgary under similar circumstances.

The precedence for adopting Uber is in Edmonton, where the city drew up new regulations and the company agreed to them. Indeed, Uber would already be legal in the city if it was not for an auto insurance issue that has halted Uber’s legalization until the summer.

Toronto would face no such auto insurance problems as Aviva Canada recently debuted a new coverage that offers a simple and affordable policy for drivers of ride-sharing companies. The city is likely to mirror Edmonton’s regulations closely, which would mean vehicle checks, background checks for drivers, and Class 4 licenses for drivers.

Uber has not said specifically what it expects from the Toronto regulations, but the company has pointed out that it hopes the city makes it possible for the company to work in the city and is not merely closing the door.

Of the new media campaign and petition, Uber’s general manager for Canada, Ian Black, said that the UberX service aids in getting transport support to areas of the city that have been “previously ignored by transit and by traditional transportation options.”

“We’ve heard quite good feedback, we’ve heard that city council does have an appetite to move forward and create positive regulations.”

The big question is, would Uber pull out of Toronto if regulations are not what it expects? The company pulled out of Calgary, but has stuck around in other cities and has shown that it will support drivers even if they are unregulated and uninsured. Toronto is the most populated city in Canada, so Uber leaving would hurt the company, even if only from a marketing point of view.

Black says it is “too soon” to discuss whether the company would leave city, but perhaps it is worth asking if Toronto can afford to ignore the economic opportunities presented by the sharing industry?

London Planning Report on Uber

The city of London is the latest to have drawn battle lines between taxi drivers, local government, and U.S ride-sharing company Uber. City Hall has actually taken a novel approach to Uber and has decided to pass the buck to politicians with a list of options that lead to a number of eventualities, but result in either the company being legalized and regulated or kicked out of the city entirely.
Uber has been operating in London since it began moving across Southwestern Ontario during the end of 2015, and as always the company’s expansion has brought plenty of controversy along for the ride.

While the city is considering adopting Uber legally, it is actually still locked in a legal battle with the $40 billion valued giant. London has taken a front on approach to combating the company. Whereas other cities have just let Uber operate illegally without regulation, London is part of the group of municipalities that have actually turned police on Uber drivers.

The city has issued 36 fines to drivers, and the consequences have been high with legal tariffs of between $400 and $1000. However, Uber has defended its drivers and has stumped up for their fines, but despite this the company is positive about the report.

“We welcome the (report and) look forward to continuing to engage with city officials and council to modernize regulations to encourage innovation, put people first and create safe, reliable and affordable transportation options,” an Uber spokesperson wrote.

Uber has oft argued that it is a technology company that merely provides a platform (smartphone app) for passengers to connect with freelance drivers. This argument the company says means it is not a taxi service and therefore should not be regulated like one. Taxi unions have fought the company and Roger Caranci of the London Taxi Association said the city should protect the industry:

“The vast majority of rules are in place to protect consumers. We will not compromise any of those rules,” he said.

FSCO approves Aviva Canada ride-sharing policy

The Financial Service Commission of Ontario has granted regulatory approval to Aviva Canada to launch its ride-sharing specific auto insurance policy in the province. The policy is a huge help to controversial ride-sharing company Uber as it gives its drivers their first ever auto insurance coverage. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) described the policy as a first of its kind in Canada.
Aviva Canada
The most interesting result of the FSCO’s decision is that it leaves UberX operatives in Canada’s largest province covered for the first time, but those same drivers are still working in Ontario illegally. That’s because Uber is still yet to receive regulatory permission in the province, in other words the UberX service has not been legalized.
Aviva says it is fulfilling a customer need and filling a space in the market.

“There are a lot of people out there trying to make some extra money, and that’s a great thing, but they’re doing it without the appropriate coverage for themselves and for their passengers as well,” said spokesman Glenn Cooper.

Toronto has recently voted to regulate Uber, but changes have not been implemented yet, while a bill to potentially legalize ride-sharing services in Ontario is still waiting to go before the committees. Champion of that bill, Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak, has described Aviva’s policy as a major step forward and urged the province to legalize sharing companies.

“The longer we delay on an overall ride-sharing legislative framework the less help it is for cabbies, for Uber drivers, for customers and I’m worried that situation, that tension, is going to escalate if the province does not act,” he said.

However, the taxi industry remains hugely critical of Uber and opposition to the company is never likely to cease, even if the company is legalized and regulated fairly. Taxi associations have protested Uber and think the company provides illegal and unfair competition, and as such they have also spoke critically of Aviva’s policy.

“We are very concerned that an Aviva announcement that ‘an approved product exists and is available for purchase’ will be misconstrued by politicians to mean ‘20,000 illegal UberX drivers are now insured,’ Toronto Taxi Alliance president Gail Souter and Canadian Taxicab Association president Marc Andre Way wrote in a letter to Aviva.

Aviva Canada released a statement on its media relations page last week saying that it does not endorse Uber or any other ride-sharing company.

Hamilton continues offensive against Uber drivers

The city of Hamilton in Ontario is continuing to fight against the rise of Uber and its ride-sharing model as authorities clamped down on UberX drivers again last week.

The city said it tracked and found 13 drivers who were working for the UberX service and issued them with fines, adding to the seven already caught to make the total number of drivers charged in Hamilton to 21. As with all charges, the 13 drivers have been tracked for operating a commercial peer-2-peer driving service without a city handed taxi license.
Toronto Mayor Tory Unconvinced By Uber
All the drivers charged by Hamilton so far will pay fines of $305, but still many have not been discouraged and will continue to work for Uber in the city.

Uber has said previously that it will “support drivers in instances of enforcement” – which essentially means the company commits to paying the fines, although it has not explicitly said such. Hamilton’s stance mirrors that of other cities in Canada who deem Uber’s operations as illegal as the company employs drivers without having sufficient regulatory permission.

While banning the company entirely has been exposed as a futile exercise, many cities are still instructing law enforcement to clamp down on UberX drivers by issuing them with charges. Toronto is one exception, where Mayor John Tory said that going after UberX drivers would cost too much money and waste too much time.

Toronto was the first Canadian city to propose regulatory changes to adopt Uber legally into the city, but while those regulations are made, the company was asked to cease operations. Hamilton is one step behind, but says it is seeking to regulate Uber, but wants the company to stop operations until a clear path is found. In both instances the U.S. based ride-sharing giant has refused to stop working in the mentioned cities.

Earlier in the month Uber said it would reduce prices in five Canadian cities, Hamilton among them, in a bid to entice consumers who tend to take less rides in the harsh winter cold.