Ride-hailing report shows road forward for regulation in B.C.

It's not here yet, but ride-hailing in B.C. took a big step forward today.

All-party committee unanimously supports plan for services

Vancouver is the largest city in North America without legalized ride-hailing. (Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock)

It's not here yet, but ride-hailing in B.C. took a big step forward on Thursday.

An all-party committee in the legislature unanimously supported a plan for ride-hailing services throughout the province.

The committee's report, which can be read here, makes 32 recommendations to help pave the way toward introducing and regulating ride-hailing in B.C. They include:

  • Requiring drivers to get a criminal record and vulnerable sector check from a third party on an annual basis
  • Tracking data on every trip and providing the data to the government, so appropriate regulations can be made around pricing and accessibility
  • Have ICBC create a separate, mandatory insurance product for drivers, to reflect different risks associated for personal and commercial use

NDP committee chairwoman Bowinn Ma said the recommendations balance the importance of developing regulations that encompass fairness, consumer protection and worker rights in a constantly changing economy.

A spokesperson for Uber, the largest ride-hailing company in the world, said they were reviewing the report in detail before commenting.

When will legislation come?

Deputy chairwoman Stephanie Cadieux of the opposition Liberals and Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party, say the recommendations provide the foundation to bring in ride-hailing this year.

"I think the recommendations strike a balance focusing on the need to welcome disruptive technology to our economy, but with due care and attention to the diverse province in which service will be delivered, and to ensuring equitable access and equitable regulation," said Cadieux.

The report comes ahead of a government review due later this year from transportation industry expert Dan Hara, who was asked to provide recommendations for the creation of a made-in-B.C. ride-hailing service — despite the fact that in their election platform, the NDP promised to bring in ride-hailing legislation by the end of 2017.

"The NDP now have no excuse to continue their stalling tactics on this issue," said Cadieux.

"It's now incumbent on the NDP to introduce this legislation."

For her part, Ma steered away from commenting about the timing of bringing in ride-hailing services, saying that was a question for Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.

"What I will say is that the ride-hailing ... report is not the be-all, end-all of a regulatory regime for B.C.," she said.

Weaver acknowledged that legislation wouldn't come forward before the summer break.

"Realistically, I would expect to see legislation in the fall to enable it. If this was suddenly a top priority for the government, they could ... do this in the spring. It's not onerous in terms of what we're recommending, but it's a question of government priority."

With files from The Canadian Press

About the Author

Justin McElroy

@j_mcelroy

Justin is a reporter for CBC Vancouver, covering political stories throughout British Columbia.