September 16, 2015 by Canadian Underwriter
A recommendation to seek confirmation from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), on the availability of insurance products for “transportation network companies,” is on the agenda of a Toronto City Council committee Wednesday.
Toronto’s licencing and standards committee will consider a recommendation, from the city’s executive director, municipal licensing and standards, to update the definitions, in the municipal code, of Taxicab Broker and Limousine Service Company to “explicitly provide that technology-based brokerages, including Uber, are within the existing regulatory regime.”
Last September, Uber launched UberX, which “has been embraced by the public,” a staff report notes. “Uber’s use and encouragement of unlicensed vehicles-for-hire concerns the City, particularly with respect to uncertain insurance coverage and the processes used to screen and manage unlicensed drivers, which pose a risk to public safety.”
The staff report also recommends that City Council “direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to review provisions of the Municipal Code related to taxicabs and report back to Licensing and Standards Committee by January 2016 with recommendations to lessen regulatory burden and enhance competitiveness in the municipally-licensed taxicab industry.”
This review would include current fare structure, vehicle requirements, vehicle inspections and taxicab training.
The report also recommends City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards “seek confirmation from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario of the approval and availability of insurance products for ‘Transportation Network Companies’ and their drivers that could adequately protect passengers, drivers, and members of the public from risks associated with the operation of ‘Private Vehicles-for-Hire.’”
A “Transportation Network Company” licensing system is opposed by the Toronto Taxi Alliance.
“Taxi drivers cannot compete with an unfair, unregulated service which allow part-time drivers to use their personal cars to pick up fares,” stated Sajid Mughal, president of iTaxi Workers, in a Toronto Taxi Alliance press release Sept. 16.
Taxi and limo operators in Toronto “are subject to hundreds of separate requirements under By-law 545, all of which we follow diligently,” stated Peter Zahakos of the Taxicab Brokerages’ Association. “UberX is subject to nothing.”