Toronto taxi cab drivers stage morning protest

The city is kicking cab drivers to the curb in favour of Uber, the president of a cab drivers' association said at a Wednesday morning protest.

Demonstration at East York Civic Centre comes on heels of city move to license Uber

Cab drivers held signs criticizing Tracey Cook, the Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards for the City of Toronto, during Wednesday morning's protest. (Linda Ward/CBC)

The city is kicking cab drivers to the curb in favour of Uber, the president of a cab drivers' association said at a Wednesday morning protest.

The United Taxiworkers Association, as well as several other taxi groups, are staging a protest at the East York Civic Centre at Coxwell and Mortimer Avenues this morning. The group represents around 3,500 drivers in the GTA.

The drivers are upset with how the city has handled Uber, the ride-hailing company that's cut into cab drivers' profits. Yesterday, the city announced Uber has now been licensed as a Private Transportation Company (PTC) — the first such license in Canada, according to city officials.

At the protest, Taxiworkers president Paul Sekhon blasted the city for not protecting traditional cab drivers who have been paying into the system.

"They should have respect for us,' Sekhon told the dozens of cab drivers in attendance.

"We're here to do a full time job and provide food and put it on the table for our families."

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Sekhon also took a shot at Uber drivers in the city who are driving as a secondary job, calling them "jokers." He also said if Uber is going to operate as a PTC, it shouldn't be using drivers who haven't had their backgrounds checked out by the city.

City officials have said it could be late September before Uber's drivers are licensed.

Cab drivers wore yellow shirts with "No 2 tier system" written on the back. Many in attendance also called for Tracey Cook, the city's executive director of licensing and standards, to resign over the way the Uber issue has been handled.

Uber drivers to get licenses

As a PTC, Uber will have to forward its drivers' background information to the city so they can be screened and licensed. The city is expecting to issue some 12,000 licenses as part of the plan, including to those who driver their own personal vehicles using the UberX platform. 

The United Taxi Workers blasted the city's announcement on Tuesday, saying it sends the wrong message to traditional cab drivers.

Wednesday morning's protest remained peaceful and didn't block roads or harm the public. 

Sekhon said the cab industry isn't seeking special treatment, but rather that the city follow its own bylaws — something he said should also keep the public safe.