Quebec Taxi Drivers To Be Compensated For Losses Due To Uber

Taxi drivers in Quebec are going to be compensated for financial losses caused by Uber entering the market and driving down pay.

As the ride-hailing firm continues to court controversy as it enters new markets, the Quebec government has decided to take action for those who say they cannot compete against such low fares.

Taxi and Private Hire drivers in Montreal staged a protest after the transport giant launched in the province and demanding the city refuse to grant them an operator license, effectively banning the company. Drivers also approached the court but the requests were turned down.

The government has decided that instead of taking similar action to New York City Council, which has put a cap on the number of licenses it is awarding to non wheelchair accessible vehicles, they will hand out money instead.

According to Montreal-based MTL Blog, $250 million of public funds is expected to go to taxi drivers who have seen the value of their permits plummet from hundreds of thousands of dollars to just a few tens of thousands.

Writing in Vanity Fair, a former software engineer for Uber has spoken out saying the gig economy, far from providing solutions for the 21st century, stands to be the only economy.

I overheard two other engineers in the cafeteria discussing driver bonuses—specifically, ways to manipulate bonuses so that drivers could be “tricked” into working longer hours.

Laughing, they compared the drivers to animals: “You need to dangle the carrot right in front of their face.” Shortly thereafter, a wave of price cuts hit drivers in the Bay Area. When I talked to the drivers, they described how Uber kept fares in a perfectly engineered sweet spot: just high enough for them to justify driving, but just low enough that not much more than their gas and maintenance expenses were covered.

But whilst the move may look generous, it has been criticised from within the industry by those who say handouts are not the answer.

Fareed Baloch from said that drivers “want to be able to earn a decent wage without resorting to hand outs from the state.”

“We saw in New York that what was effectively a bribe by Uber, Lyft and Via to create a ‘fund’ was turned down in favour of a cap whilst a thorough investigation into the industry took place. I, and many others in the industry, think this was the right decision to take.

“Drivers do not want to be given pocket money by the government, however well meaning they may think it is.

“And this does nothing for the long term health of the market: what needs to happen is a level playing field, proper safety measures and decent employment standards which the gig economy has been eroding.

“But it isn’t just about banning competition either: private hire and taxi firms have to move with the times and embrace the technology that passengers are now demanding.

“As we have proved for our customers, it’s affordable, easy to implement and it can save your business.”

Instead of using the money to help firms meet the digital needs of their customers, only $44 million is going towards improving technology to help them compete.

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