Winnipeg gig drivers look at other lines of work as rising gas prices eat into income
Uber looking at ways to help its drivers, company spokesperson says
Some Winnipeg drivers working in the gig economy say they're considering finding other ways to earn an income as rising gas prices eat away at their profits.
Yashsvi Yashsvi used to drive for Uber part time, in addition to his full-time job in a restaurant, but he's been forced to stop. Filling up his gas tank, which he says used to cost between $40 and $45, now costs him close to $65.
"I'm making very less money now. So that's bad for me, and … lots of my friends. They do the same, they stopped," he said.
Yashsvi, who is originally from India, said the price hike will affect his ability to support his family there.
"I have to send money to my parents, because they depend on me."
On Thursday, the average price for regular gasoline in Winnipeg was 173.6 cents per litre, according to the Canadian Automobile Association. That's up from 149.9 a week ago, CAA says.
Prices at the pump are being driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has led to supply disruptions from one of the world's largest oil producers, experts say.
Devon Giesbrecht says the rising gas prices are digging into his take-home pay.
He drove for the grocery delivery service Instacart full time when he lived in Nanaimo, B.C., and drives part time now that he's in Winnipeg.
"With it constantly going up, it's making it more and more difficult to make a decent profit for the time I have to put in. And I am trying to see if there is something else out there I can find for a second income."
Giesbrecht says he's trying to work smarter by picking and choosing which orders he takes, staying within a particular area of the city and only accepting larger orders.
But he says drivers would have an easier time if Instacart implemented a fuel surcharge.
John Seymour, who drives for Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes, says he recently spent $68 to fill up his gas tank. That's almost as much as he typically makes in a four-hour shift, he said.
"I don't know if I want to keep doing the gig work," he said.
"The prices, they look like they're just going to keep going up throughout the year. And I don't know if any of the gig services are going to accommodate those prices."
A spokesperson for Uber said the ride-hailing company is aware of the challenge rising gas prices pose for drivers and is looking at the best way to help.
"At the end of the day the platform only works for riders if it works for drivers, so we'll continue to listen and adapt over the coming weeks and months," the spokesperson said in an email statement.
Puneet Saurabh says he likes the flexibility of working for Uber, but he isn't receiving any sort of compensation for the extra costs of filling up his tank.
He said he recently got a message from the company advising drivers to switch to electric vehicles, but the upfront cost of buying one is too high.
"We are not getting any grants or any support from government or Uber," he said.
"If they support us, obviously we want to switch to electric vehicles as well.… It's expensive for us to drive a car with gas."
With files from Lauren Donnelly and Peggy Lam