Quebec government strikes deal to allow Uber to keep operating
During 90-day reprieve, ride-hailing service can continue while 2 sides work out permit details
The Quebec government and ride-hailing service Uber have struck a deal.
The government will amend Bill 100, the proposed law aimed at regulating Uber, to delay implementation of certain clauses by 90 days.
During that time, Uber and the government will work out the details of a pilot project that would test ways the ride-hailing service could conform with Quebec taxi laws.
"We want to give ourselves a chance to be innovative and to face up to this reality of the 21st century," said Transport Minister Jacques Daoust.
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The type of permit Uber drivers will need to operate in the province is one of the issues to be worked out in the pilot project phase.
Bill 100, unamended, would force UberX drivers to take out a taxi permit or risk fines up to $25,000.
Uber has proposed the creation and purchase of special ride-sharing permits for its UberX drivers, distinct from the permits that taxi drivers require to work in Quebec.
Deal buys all sides extra time
The amendment will ensure the bill's provisions won't come into effect until 90 days after it's passed in order to give the two sides time to come to an agreement.
Bill 100 was introduced in May and was seen as an attempt to crack down on Uber.
But the legislation wasn't universally popular; Daoust attracted criticism from members of his own party over the plan.
The Quebec Liberal Party's youth wing, which criticized the proposed law, applauded the decision to create the pilot project Tuesday.
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Bill may become law this week
In a statement, the head of Uber in Quebec, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, commended the government on its "openness and engagement" in amending the bill, adding the company is confident a "fair compromise for all players" will be reached.
Daoust said when discussions about the future of Uber in Quebec began, the company wasn't "respectful," and that it has only recently agreed to negotiate, necessitating the extra time in order to come to a permanent solution.
Guillemette said the "evolution of [Uber's] approach in the last few weeks is proof of our deep desire to serve Quebecers."
Still technically illegal, taxi drivers say
Benoît Jugand, the spokesman for RTAM-Métallos, the union representing thousands of Montreal's taxi drivers, said he's all for finding a compromise.
But he said since Uber is still technically operating illegally, the company should cease operations until an agreement about how it would function is reached.
Daoust said he believes the bill can be passed this week, pointing out the only holdout is the Coalition Avenir Québec.
In a statement, the CAQ claimed victory, saying the party's hard work contributed to the government's decision to amend the bill.
It said it's still in the process to studying the bill.
Parti Québécois transport critic Martine Ouellet said the party wants to see Uber pay back taxes for the two years it's been operating in Quebec.
Daoust said the parts of the bill dealing with cyclist safety will come into effect as soon as the law is passed.