Uber staying in Quebec despite earlier threat to leave
A month ago, the general manager of Uber Quebec, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette made a “threat” to cease operations on October 14, after the Canadian province introduced some quite restrictive conditions on their drivers.
The ridesharing company on Friday announced that it is backing down on its plans to end operations in Quebec, and would continue to negotiate with the government with the hope that an agreement can be made.
The new law which states that Quebec drivers are mandated to complete 35 hours of training—an increment from a former time of about 20 hours, and a background check with the Police Force, began October 14—same day Uber threatened to pull out its operation.
With only about a year of operation in Quebec, the new measures introduced after the government pilot project was renewed, was termed “not feasible” by the rideshare company. The company on Friday though distributed memos signed by Guillemette to its drivers and passengers, intimating them of the current situation and appreciating them for their patience and support.
Transport Minister André Fortin held his resolve, saying the province won’t back down or alter the training rules.
“My job is to put a regulatory framework in place. Whether a specific private company decides to operate within it, it’s not for me to be for or against that.” he said on CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.
He also remarked that, “I don’t think we can stick our heads in the sand in Quebec and go back to the good old years of the 1950s. If Uber doesn’t operate in Quebec, there is room for similar companies to take its place.”
However, Fortin said that while the government will not compromise in its training requirements, it is willing to afford Uber drivers enough time to get their background checks done—as new drivers resuming on or after Sunday are given eight weeks, and current drivers will be given two years.
André Fortin—who has just been on the job three days, said the role of the Transport Ministry is to create and enforce regulations that favour everyone and in turn guarantees the safety of users.
Some certain taxi owners—Kamal Sabbah, Serge Leblanc, and Jean Vachon, have shown their displeasure with the concession via an open letter to the minister on Friday afternoon.
Their displeasure being that the policies tend to create “unchivalrous” impressions, contrary to the promises made by former Transport Minister Laurent Lessard about taxi licences.
“Once again, we feel like the [taxi] industry must always patiently wait while Uber gets compromises and exceptions,” the letter says.
Premier Philippe Couillard said early Thursday that while the province will keep negotiating with the company, it would not “submit to a multinational.”
If the new law is enforced, Quebec would become the only Canadian jurisdiction where Uber operates that mandates drivers to be trained.
The old pilot project—where Uber operated under formally, began last year and expired Saturday. Uber had to train its own drivers under the former rule, which required that drivers pass a 4C driver’s licence test, and ensure none of them possessed criminal records.
After once pulling out of Austin, Texas due to similar conditions, Uber drivers were hopeful that the appointment of a new transport minister would ameliorate the situation.