Canadian Underwriter

B.C. Green Party introduces ridesharing legislation for the third time

October 23, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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Andrew Weaver, the leader of the B.C. Green Party, has introduced his Ridesharing Enabling Act for the third time.

Weaver previously introduced the bill twice under the previous B.C. Liberal government. The bill has been modified from previous versions to enable the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to develop an insurance regime for ride-hailing, as well as some other minor modifications, said a press release from the B.C. Green Party late last week.

“Now that all three parties have agreed to bring ride-hailing to B.C., it’s time we had a frank and substantive debate on the details of this issue,” Weaver said in the release. “In the five years since ride-hailing was first introduced to B.C., there has been much fear-mongering and politicization of this issue.”

Noting that the province has a minority government where parties need to work together, Weaver said that he urges the NDP to “call this bill forward for debate so that British Columbians can hear an open, transparent discussion on ride-hailing from their MLAs.”

“B.C. cannot be a leader in the creative economy unless it addresses emerging technologies head-on,” he said, noting that “Vancouver is the largest city in North America to not regulate this industry. Meanwhile, ride-hailing companies are operating without proper oversight, insurance or regulation.”

Related: B.C. Green Party leader to re-introduce ridesharing legislation in the fall

These disruptive technologies have ramifications throughout many facets of society, Weaver continued, noting that parties have rightly raised concerned about how ridesharing will impact existing businesses and public safety. “Let’s take this opportunity to do things differently by engaging in a substantive policy-based discussion about this issue that British Columbians have awaited for far too long,” he concluded.

On Thursday, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) urged all MLAs to “act quickly” to introduce ridesharing in B.C. while also modernizing the traditional taxi industry. “With the fall legislative session now well underway, we urge the provincial government to make immediate, meaningful steps toward greater mobility in our region,” said Iain Black, president and CEO of the GVBOT, in a statement. “Throughout the last provincial election, our members made clear that we need more choice when it comes to passenger transportation. All three party leaders pledged to pass ridesharing enabling legislation by the end of the year, and we call on the new government to follow through.”

Weaver’s announcement came just days after the provincial government said that it has hired an industry expert to consult with and help prepare the taxi industry for a “made-in-B.C.” solution to ridesharing. The province hired Dan Hara of Ottawa-based Hara Associates, who has been providing consultation for vehicle-for-hire regulators through the company since 1987.

The review will include:

  • An examination of the current regulatory framework in B.C.;
  • The current state of the taxi industry and regulation in other jurisdictions, including the impact of new entrants into the passenger-directed vehicle market;
  • Meetings with individual taxi licence holders to understand the industry’s current operating model, and identify any systemic barriers to modernization;
  • Meetings with a taxi drivers’ association to identify challenges and opportunities of the current passenger-directed vehicle regulatory framework;
  • Meetings with the Passenger Transportation Board, Passenger Transportation Registrar and Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement, local governments, Treaty First Nations (TFN), ports and airports to understand the complex regulatory environment for B.C.’s taxi industry and identify overlapping and duplicative requirements;
  • Meetings with taxi user representatives, including the Senior Advocate, disability advocates and tourism associations to understand the impact that the current system has on availability and accessibility of taxi service; and
  • Identify municipal, TFN or provincial policies, rules, regulation or legislation that may be impeding the taxi industry’s ability to modernize to meet consumer needs.

Related: Ridesharing anticipated in B.C. by “end of 2017,” province unveils measures to help taxi industry modernize

Last Tuesday, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released the results of a poll of 1,000 British Columbians that found that 78% of those polled “expressed their desire for more choice and more competition in the province’s auto insurance system.” Conducted by Maple Leaf Strategies on behalf of IBC, the poll also found that 89% of respondents believe that competition will allow them to shop around and possibly save money on coverage. “British Columbians do not necessarily want to eliminate ICBC; they want a competitive model where they can make a choice, even on basic car insurance,” IBC said in the poll.

“Competition provides a powerful incentive for any company to keep prices down, to deliver the best service, and to understand and meet the needs of its customers. Auto insurance is no exception to this rule,” said Aaron Sutherland, vice president, Pacific with IBC, in a statement. “These polling results show that British Columbians overwhelmingly want the ability to choose the auto insurance provider that is best for them. Canada’s private insurers are eager to better serve B.C. drivers so that they can take advantage of the benefits of competition and choice in auto insurance.”

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