Saskatchewan

Sexual assault survivor wants more regulations for Sask. ride-hailing and taxi drivers

A Regina woman who was sexually assaulted by a cab driver in 2016 says she's worried that the province's new regulations for ride-hailing and taxi drivers miss the mark when it comes to passenger safety.

Woman was assaulted by former taxi driver in 2016

A woman who was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver fears Saskatchewan's new regulations for ride-hailing and taxi drivers won't guarantee safety. (Cory Coleman/CBC)

​A woman who was sexually assaulted by a former taxi driver says she fears new provincial regulations, brought in as Saskatchewan opens its roads to ride-hailing services, won't keep people safe from similar attacks.

Drivers working for ride-hailing services in the province will be allowed to operate with a Class 5 licence — the standard licence obtained by most regular drivers — if they meet certain requirements, including an annual criminal record check. The province has also loosened its rules for taxi and limo drivers to allow them to drive with a Class 5 licence rather than a commercial Class 4 licence as of Dec. 14. 

A spokesperson for SGI said transportation network companies, taxi companies and limo services will be required to notify the Crown corporation if a driver is convicted of a criminal offence. SGI would then remove their authorization to be a Vehicle for Hire driver, the spokesperson said. 

There is nothing that dictates companies must disclose charges or pending charges.

The sexual assault survivor, whose name is protected by a publication ban, said she is most concerned that taxi drivers or drivers for ride-hailing companies could be allowed to drive passengers while they are facing sexual assault charges.

The woman was assaulted by a taxi driver in front of her home after an evening at the symphony in September 2016.

What kept me going everyday was the reminder that I could help other women.- Sexual assault survivor

She reported the assault to  the cab company, which eventually told her it fired the driver. She also went to the police because she thought another company might hire him. Regina police arrested the taxi driver, Gurdit Mashiana, on Oct. 8, 2016.

"When they found my assailant, they were able to take off that part of his licence, so he couldn't continue driving women," she said.

Justice Carol Snell found Mashiana guilty of sexual assault in November 2018 at Provincial Court in Regina.

The sexual assault survivor has epilepsy, which prevents her from driving. She called Regina's bus system unreliable, especially in the evenings, and said she spends about $600 on cabs each month.

She said she would have been devastated had the driver kept working in the months leading up to his conviction, knowing she or someone else might end up in his vehicle. 

"I just can't even imagine how I would have even gotten out of bed for these two years," she said, choking back tears.

A spokesperson for the Regina Police Service confirmed city police do have the ability to remove a taxi driver's licence.

The police spokesperson said a licence may be revoked or denied in several circumstances, including a history of criminal activity.

"It doesn't have to be a criminal conviction; if the situation is one where the police officer reviewing the licence has suspicion that the driver might use his or her position to engage in criminal activity, then the licence is no longer approved," they said.

The sexual assault survivor said the court experience was hard, but said she wanted to make sure her assailant wouldn't be allowed to drive for hire again. 

She said she is sharing her story again as a cautionary tale others, particularly those like her who have no choice but to rely on hired transportation. 

"Assault makes a person so often feel disgusting and useless and of no value but what kept me going everyday was the reminder that I could help other women."

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