Canadian Underwriter

Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges City of Toronto to “unlock the economic potential” of ridesharing

September 24, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is urging Toronto City Council to “unlock the economic potential” of the sharing economy as the city considers adopting a Transportation Network Company regulation for ridesharing.

This week’s deliberations by Toronto City Council are an “opportunity for Toronto to become a leading jurisdiction in creating innovative regulations,” said the OCC

“The sharing economy is growing at an incredible rate and the opportunity for Ontario municipalities is an important one,” said Allan O’Dette, president & CEO of the OCC, in a press release issued on Thursday. “Jurisdictions that are building adaptable regulatory and tax frameworks are more likely to produce new technologies that will drive economic growth.”

The chamber’s foray into the debate at Toronto City Hall follows the recent release of their report, Harnessing the Power of the Sharing Economy, which called on governments to recognize the sharing economy as an opportunity to build adaptable regulatory frameworks that support innovation. This week’s deliberations by Toronto City Council are an “opportunity for Toronto to become a leading jurisdiction in creating innovative regulations,” said the OCC, Ontario’s largest business advocacy network.

Harnessing the Power of the Sharing Economy, published in association with PwC Canada, made five recommendations to the provincial government. One of those was to “engage industry to fill any gaps in insurance coverage” in the sharing economy. Another was that the provincial government work with the federal government to develop a ‘how-to’ guide on tax compliance in the sharing economy.

Related: Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges province to ‘engage’ insurance industry on coverage gaps in ‘occasional commercial use’

“Ontarians and Torontonians need a regulatory regime that is able to adapt to changing economic conditions and is responsive to the emergence of new sectors,” said O’Dette in the OCC press release. “This kind of regulatory system is fair for both established operators and new market entrants.”

The OCC has also emphasized the need for immediate action to be taken to fill any insurance gaps in the sharing economy, particularly in the transportation space. Traditional insurance products have not adapted to account for occasional commercial use, the OCC says, nor have regulators adequately clarified the ability of insurance providers to offer auto insurance packages for ridesharing suppliers who need both commercial and personal insurance.

A Mainstreet/Postmedia poll released in August found that nearly half of Torontonians (45%) surveyed are “favourable” to Uber, with 37% in support of banning the service. The poll of 7,323 respondents across six Canadian cities – Edmonton, London, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto – also found that Torontonians are among the most favourable to the ridesharing service, with seven in 10 respondents in the city following the issue surrounding Uber and taxis, which began when UberX launched last fall.

Torontonians largely favour change in the taxi industry, with 44% wanting to abolish the current system, albeit most with compensation for current drivers. Respondents were strongly in favour of Uber playing by existing rules, with 63% saying Uber should have the same regulations as taxis. Most want a compromise between Uber and taxis to get there, with 38% favouring such a solution.

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