Quebec is the latest city to consider the legalization of Uber, or to at least try to find a path to move towards regulating sharing companies. Canada’s largest province has started hearings at the national assembly to discuss the future of the traditional taxi industry in the province in the face of competition from UberX as well as tackling ride-sharing companies in general.
No firm decisions are expected to be made, but still taxi drivers are going to protest the talks as they seek to fight against the Uber service that they deem as providing unfair competition.
Transport Minister Jacques Daoust has said that the province will have to consider the impact of Uber, but the company is inevitable in Quebec so regulations need to be found. As in other provinces, taxi drivers in Quebec are opposed to the arrival of Uber and are seeking a permanent injunction against the company.
Associations representing the traditional taxi service say Uber provides unfair competition as drivers do not need to go through expensive licensing processes like taxi drivers. Regulations could solve that, but Quebec has yet to even talk about changing current legislation to allow for ride sharing companies.
Uber’s defense has always been that it is a technology company and not a taxi service, so it should not be subject to the same regulations. However, that has not gone over well with Canadian authorities, and the U.S. based company will have to concede and allow itself to be regulated like a traditional taxi service.
That happened in Edmonton last month when the city voted to legalize the UberX service. As part of the arrangement, Uber agreed to a flat fare rate, licensing regulations for its drivers, and the stipulation that all UberX drivers must require sufficient auto insurance. That latter point is still a problem for Uber as Aviva Canada’s Ontario exclusive ride-sharing auto insurance policy is not available nationwide as yet.
Edmonton reached the historic decision to legalize Uber last week, a move that has been praised and seen several authorities say other Canadian municipalities should follow suit. However, while governments across the country are warming to the UberX ride-sharing service, taxi drivers and their unions remain fiercely opposed.
In Quebec, a taxi union is going after Uber aggressively this week, looking to take an injunction out against the United States based company. Regroupement des travailleurs autonomes Métallos represents more than 4,000 taxi drivers and owners across the province and in its general assembly held in Montreal on Sunday, the union decided to take drastic action against Uber.
The group believes the UberX service is unfair competition because it is operating in the province without regulation, essentially serving Quebec consumers as an illegal service. The union thinks the local municipal government should take charge of the situation and clamp down on Uber’s operations in Quebec, unless the company complies by existing taxi laws and regulations.
Regroupement des travailleurs autonomes Métallos now says it will seek an injunction against Uber, meaning the company would have to stop working in Quebec. That injunction could come as soon as Tuesday, but evidence from other regions in the country suggests Uber will carry on operating in Quebec regardless of authority pressure.
A spokesman speaking for the San Francisco based company said as much, while adding that any union injunction would be “without merit”.
“As we have seen from Superior Courts rulings across Canada, Uber is a new transportation model distinct from the traditional taxi industry,” said spokesman Jean-Christophe De Le Rue.
The taxi driver union said that it will also be taking a court action against Uber in a bid to recoup loss of earnings drivers say they suffered because of the illegal competition UberX brought to the province.