Aylmer Taxi protests against Bill 17
Aylmer Taxi is disappointed by the Legault government’s decision to proceed with the introduction of Bill 17 on the paid transportation of people by car.
According to Joe Abou, president of Aylmer Taxi, this law would certainly put an end to the taxi industry in Quebec. “With this project, it’s like you just kicked people out,” says the president.
He points out that many of his employees have been experiencing intense anxiety and stress in recent weeks. Mr Abou says he is in constant communication with Aylmer Taxi drivers to make sure they are “fine”.
The taxi industry has four representatives in Gatineau, Mr Abou being the one in the Aylmer sector.
At the provincial level, Abdallah Homsy is the spokesperson for the Regroupement des intermédiaires du taxi de Québec (RITQ). According to the RITQ, there are nearly 22,000 taxi drivers throughout Quebec. “I didn’t see anything in this bill that is for our industry,” Homsy said at a press conference at the National Assembly. “We want to destroy this industry, we want to create an anarchy, but in a 2.0 model,” the representative said.
Gatineau taxi drivers converged in downtown Hull on March 25 to demonstrate against the caquist bill. They then headed to the constituency office of Mathieu Lévesque, Member of Parliament for Chapleau, on Gréber Boulevard. On that date, other demonstrations had taken place throughout the province.
If the government’s position does not change in the coming weeks, taxi companies promise multiple means of pressure to challenge the project. “We’re not trying to harm the population, we just want to show our views to the government,” says Joe Abou.
Summary of the bill
Introduced on March 20 by Quebec’s Minister of Transport, François Bonnardel, the bill would remove existing constraints in the taxi industry. It would abolish taxi license quotas. The market will therefore no longer be limited to current license holders. This will reduce the value of the permits.
Taxi drivers are hoping that the government will reimburse the full cost of the permits. According to the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ), from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, the average cost for a taxi permit in Gatineau was $110,714. As indicated on its website, the RITQ states that “for many taxi workers, this purchase of a license is the investment of a lifetime”.
To counter the negative consequences of the reform, the provincial government will pay half a billion dollars to the group of taxi licensees in Quebec.
By allowing competition for taxi companies, the reform would thus reduce the administrative burdens “imposed on drivers and car owners used to provide paid passenger transport”. Within its project, the government states that it “aims to encourage the emergence of technological means and modes of mobility”.
Mobile applications will be able to set the cost of travel. However, the price of taxi fares will continue to be set by the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ).
Mr Bonnardel did not make a decision and announced that the law would indeed move forward. “We have resolutely chosen to place the interests of users, who want to benefit from competitive and accessible services, at the heart of this bill,” the Quebec minister said at a press conference in Quebec City.
The Government of Quebec expects Bill 17 to come into force in June. With 26 drivers, Aylmer Taxi is the only taxi company in the area.