Montreal

Quebec taxi drivers launch day-long strike Monday morning

Taxi drivers across the province are going on strike as of 7 a.m. Monday in order to protest legislation that will deregulate much of the industry to make room for ridesharing apps like Uber.

Drivers, permit owners protesting Bill 17 which will deregulate much of the industry

Taxi drivers will strike Monday, March 25 as of 7 a.m. to protest the proposed Bill 17. (Radio-Canada)

Taxi drivers across the province are going on strike as of 7 a.m. Monday in order to protest legislation that will deregulate much of the industry to make room for ridesharing apps like Uber.

Drivers, permit holders and taxi industry advocates are calling for the total withdrawal of Bill 17, which was tabled Wednesday by Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel.

If passed, Bill 17 would abolish taxi permits, remove territorial restrictions and impose a single set of requirements on all operators.

Along with the strike action, taxi drivers will also be protesting in front of riding offices and the headquarters of the transport commission.

The planned strike action is supposed to last until 7 p.m. Monday.

The STM holds contracts with nine taxi companies that provide adapted transit service in and around the Montreal area.

In a statement, the transit agency said that all adapted transit trips booked in advance will be honoured on Monday, save for those travelling to rehabilitation centres for people with intellectual disabilities.

About 1,200 taxi drivers met in Montreal on Sunday to show their dissatisfaction with Bill 17 and finalize strike details.

Abdallah Homsy, a spokesperson for the taxi industry, called the proposed legislation "totally inhumane" and said it would throw thousands of people into bankruptcy.

Serge Lebreux, who represents taxis outside of Montreal, said that this issue affects a great number of people outside urban centres in Quebec.

"There will be a strike from one end of Quebec to the other, " said Lebreux. "Deregulating taxis to make Uber happy — it shows a lack of understanding of how important taxis are as an essential service in the regions. Not all Quebecers live in downtown Montreal."

More than 1,000 people met in Montreal on Sunday to finalize the details of their strike action on Monday. (CBC)

Gaetan Barrette, the former Quebec health minister and current opposition critic for transport, was also at the meeting on Sunday.

He said taxi drivers are entitled to proper compensation and called Coalition Avenir Québec's plan "unfair." 

Barrette suggested that the government needs to do a more "in depth analysis" to determine what kind of payment taxi permit owners should be given.

In response to the protest action, Minister Bonnardel has agreed to a meeting with representatives from the taxi industry on Tuesday.

With files from CBC's Verity Stevenson, Radio-Canada

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