New private member's bill sets sights on illegal taxis, Uber
Protecting Passenger Safety Act would increase fines, penalties
A private member's bill was tabled at Queen's Park Wednesday to give municipalities more power to deal with illegal taxis and ride-sharing companies like Uber.
If it passed, the bill would amend the parts of the Highway Traffic Act dealing with picking up people to transport them in exchange for compensation without a licence, permit or authorization.
The bill would:
- Increase fines to a range of $500 to $30,000 per offence.
- Add a penalty of three demerit points per offence.
- Include a 30-day licence suspension for a subsequent offence upon conviction of a first offence.
- Add a 30-day vehicle impoundment for a subsequent offence upon conviction of a first offence.
Unifor, a private-sector union representing thousands of cab drivers in Ontario, said in a media release Wednesday that it "welcomes" the bill.
"Strong legislation is needed to protect the public against bandit taxis in Ontario," said Amrik Singh, president of Unifor Local 1688 in Ottawa, in the release.
The bill comes as several municipalities, including Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, are challenging the legality of the ride-sharing company Uber by filing court injunctions against it.
Last month, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Ottawa won't be softening its stance on Uber, even though Toronto's mayor-elect indicated the company's increasing popularity could prompt changes to that city's taxi bylaws.
Uber has proven controversial because it allows non-professional drivers to act essentially as taxi operators, but without having to first obtain taxi licences.
The company's UberX app allows drivers to turn their cars into taxis, and passengers can use the program to request a ride from any other UberX user.