QUEBEC – It’s up to Uber to conform to Quebec laws regulating the taxi industry and not the other way around, the province’s transport minister said Thursday.
Jacques Daoust tabled legislation that would create a single legal framework to encompass taxi companies and the popular ride-hailing app alike.
“The state won’t say: ‘Uber is arriving, therefore we’ll conform to Uber,'” he told a news conference.
“Uber (must) arrive and say: ‘I’m getting into a jurisdiction and I need to conform to that jurisdiction.'”
He said the company would have to conform to Quebec law and pay taxes like anyone else.
“Here, when you get a salary, you pay taxes,” he said. “You will have to adopt that system and I have to be able to identify you.”
The bill would require anyone offering paid passenger transportation to have a taxi permit.
Some exemptions are written in to cover situations such as carpooling.
Uber issued a statement to say it is looking at the proposed legislation.
“We are now diligently studying the bill proposed by minister Daoust and its implications for close to half a million users and for thousands of driver-partners who are counting on Uber’s technology to make ends meet,” Uber Canada spokesman Jean-Christophe de Le Rue said.
“In the coming days we will have detailed comments so we can share with Quebecers the impact of this bill.”
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Uber has previously argued that developing a mobile app to allow customers to hail nearby cars makes it a technology company rather than a transportation firm.
The legislation would allow the government to decide how many taxi permits are issued in each region.
The price of a trip could vary depending on a number of factors including the day, time, category of transport or the technology used to order the ride.
Customers would also be able to evaluate the performance of their driver.
Quebec is just the latest Canadian jurisdiction grappling with how to regulate Uber and other technology-based entrants in the transportation field.
Edmonton and Calgary have both passed bylaws aimed at legalizing private vehicles-for-hire, although Uber has temporarily suspended oprations in the both cities after the Alberta government announced it would not make insurance available to drivers until the summer.
The province says it will also require drivers to have at least a Class 4 driver’s licence, which is a commercial licence.
Toronto city council voted earlier this year to give Uber the green light to operate legally in the city, provided drivers purchase $2 million liability insurance and get their cars inspected twice a year.
The taxi industry has protested the ride-hailing service in various Canadian cities, arguing Uber drivers are at an unfair advantage because they are not subject to the same rules.