Ottawa

Gatineau taxi drivers to strike Monday over proposed reforms

Cab drivers in Gatineau, Que., are taking part in a one-day walkout Monday to protest sweeping reforms to Quebec's taxi industry.

Bill 17 would abolish taxi permits, among other changes

A taxi waits in Gatineau's Old Hull district. The city's taxi drivers will be striking Monday to protest sweeping changes to how the industry operates in Quebec. (Jonathan DuPaul/CBC)

Cab drivers in Gatineau, Que., are taking part in a one-day walkout Monday to protest sweeping reforms to Quebec's taxi industry.

If passed, Bill 17, which was tabled Wednesday by Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel, will deregulate much of the industry.

Taxi permits would be abolished, territorial restrictions would be removed, and a single set of requirements would be imposed on all operators on areas such as training and background checks.

The scenario currently being considered in Gatineau is a strike from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with services maintained for disabled passengers who have medical appointments.

As of Sunday afternoon, four of Gatineau's five major taxi company owners — Aylmer Taxi, Bob Taxi, Crown/Régal and Taxi Loyal — had told Radio-Canada they intended to take part.

The city's five taxi companies operate about 180 vehicles.

'Illogical law'

"It's an illogical law. It will eradicate the taxi industry," said Bob Taxi owner Toni Fadel.

"It will force bankruptcy upon the owners, compromise revenue for drivers, as well as worsen customer service."

Talking to Gatineau cab driver Toni Fadel about today's strike over sweeping changes planned for Quebec's taxi industry. 7:58

Taxi drivers would maintain some exclusivity under the changes, including being the only drivers able to pick up people who hail them from the street or contact them through a dispatcher.

The province has also announced it will spend another $250 million to compensate taxi drivers whose permit value has dropped since Uber's arrival, raising the total compensation package to $500 million.

With files from Radio-Canada and CBC Montreal

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