No backing down on taxi regulation bill: transport minister
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:35PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:36PM EDT
While thousands of angry taxi drivers blocked traffic on Monday in protest of a bill that they say would force many of them into bankruptcy, Quebec’s transport minister said on Tuesday he won’t back down.
Francois Bonnardel said Bill 17, which would deregulate the taxi industry, will be beneficial by promoting competition between cabs and services like Uber.
One aspect of the bill would eliminate taxi permits as they currently exist. There are currently 6,500 taxi permits in the Quebec, which drivers either rent from owners on a weekly basis or buy based on market value. While the permits were originally given for free by the government, the number of permits was capped in the 1970s.
Many cab drivers borrowed up to $200,000 to buy a permit in busy markets like Montreal. Cab drivers have complained that the arrival of Uber has caused the value of a permit to plummet, with the average now worth $90,000.
Bonnardel said the cab drivers will be compensated for their loss as part of the bill.
“I think it’s a fair amount to give half a billion dollars for the taxi industry,” he said. “The Liberals have offered $250 million, we decided to offer another $250 million. We will discuss with the industry, we will meet again.”