Uber allowed to operate in Quebec for another year

The pilot project allowing the ride-sharing company Uber to operate in Quebec is being extended for 12 more months.

Province extends pilot project for ride-hailing company for 12 more months

With the extension of the pilot project for a second time, Uber drivers will be able to continue operating in Quebec until Oct. 14, 2019. (Julia Page/CBC)

Uber drivers will be allowed to pick up passengers in Quebec for at least one more year.

The government has extended the pilot project allowing the ride-hailing company to operate in the province.

Minister of Transport André Fortin signed the ministerial order, which was published today — just days before handing over the ministry to the Coalition Avenir Québec.

Fortin was responding to a request from the incoming government to extend the pilot project, which was set to expire on Sunday, Oct. 14.

The ministry said by continuing the project for another 12 months, it will be able to gather and analyze more data while measuring the company's impact on the taxi industry.

Taxi owners 'disappointed'

Taxi associations in Quebec said the decision goes against the commitment made by premier-designate François Legault while on the campaign trail.

Abdallah Homsy, president of the Regroupement des intermédiaires de taxi de Québec (RITQ), said Legault promised to consult with the industry before making a move.

"He didn't lose any time doing the exact opposite," said Homsy in a statement.

In the 2018 provincial budget, nearly $250 million was allocated to the taxi industry to compensate for lost revenue. (Gabrielle Thibault-Delorme/Radio-Canada)

The RITQ, as well as Taxis du Grand Montréal et Rive-Sud (TGM), said the new government should overrule the Liberals' decision to exempt people who were already driving for Uber before the pilot project began from undergoing police background checks. (New Uber drivers are now required to undergo checks.)

The taxi groups are also asking the incoming CAQ government to continue compensating the industry for its losses.

The Liberals allocated a $250 million to the industry in 2018, which works out to approximately $30,000 per taxi licence. 

Taxi Champlain owner George Boussios says the government needs to make up its mind once and for all Uber's place in the province.

"Either legalize it or get rid of it," Boussios said on CBC Montreal's Homerun.

"How much data do they need to collect?"

He said he's not surprised that the CAQ will continue to allow Uber drivers to work here but says that more needs to be done to ensure taxi drivers and Uber drivers are subjected to the same regulations.

"Just say they're here to stay, so we can resolve this," he said.

Boussios says Uber drivers should be required to pay the same insurance rates, vehicle inspection fees and be subjected to the same random checks as cab drivers.

Uber threatened to pull out of Quebec in 2017

This is the second time the pilot project has been extended. 

As the deadline was approaching on Oct. 14, 2017, the company threatened to cease operations in Quebec because of the restrictions imposed by the government.

Uber backed down when Fortin was appointed transport minister, agreeing to the province's regulations.

Under the latest rules, Uber drivers are required to hold a Class 4C driver's licence, undergo a police background check and complete a free online training session.

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