Montréal, May 26, 2016 ‒ Today the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal presented the Commission on Transportation and the Environment an innovative solution during consultations for Bill 100, An Act to amend various legislative provisions respecting mainly transportation services by taxi. Its proposal is meant to break the impasse that has held sway in the taxi industry for the past few months, particularly in the city, which has over 60% of the province’s owner’s permits. The Board of Trade believes that in its current form, the bill imposes a single business model that would eliminate the benefits of competition for the consumer, which we have enjoyed since Uber appeared on the scene.
In February, the Board of Trade recommended adopting an open regulatory framework by buying back existing taxi owner’s permits, partially financing the measure through a buy-back tax applied per trip across the board. The government has since decided not to go that route. “We are aware that this is political direction they are taking,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “But it is entirely possible to put in place a regulatory framework that requires everyone to hold a permit, foster different business models that coexist and encourage the emergence of innovative players.”
A flexible permit system
The Board of Trade recommends that the government adopt a system that allows for several categories of permits. Current taxi owner’s permit holders would receive a class A permit and enjoy exclusive privileges: the right to pick up clients on the street, access to waiting areas, access to express lanes, being able to respond to government and institutional requests for proposals and the ability for taxi companies to offer direct communication systems to order a car in a public place, for example, a hotel or a shopping centre. “The system the Board of Trade is proposing would offer traditional taxi drivers undeniable competitive advantages,” Michel Leblanc said.
Class B permits will be for drivers from private transportation networks, such as Uber, which could operate in Quebec provided they meet a series of obligations: collecting taxes from the first dollar earned, providing proof of adequate insurance and an annual mechanical inspection, respecting the maximum vehicle age of 10 years and undergoing a criminal background check. Holders of class B permits would also pay a contribution to the SAAQ to compensate for the additional risks involved in remunerated passenger transportation. “Clearly Uber, like any innovative business, should have to comply with these requirements to operate in Quebec,” Michel Leblanc said.
“The adjustments proposed by the Board of Trade offer the advantage of ensuring the continuity of the current system by retaining a certain value for existing permits and integrating new business models,” Mr. Leblanc said. “These amendments would benefit clients, who would have more options available to them, part-time drivers in private transportation networks, who want to become part of the market, and taxi drivers, who want to maintain the current system, but who are nevertheless calling for their regulatory obligations to be reduced.”
Prepare for self-driving cars
When Premier Couillard released the Plan d’action en économie numérique (digital economy action plan), he said that discussions in recent months about Uber and the taxi industry were nothing compared to the impact of self-driving cars. “The government has a unique opportunity to provide Quebec with an innovative, open, trail-blazing regulatory framework,” Michel Leblanc said. “We call on the government to show vision and wisdom. Quebec needs to embrace the new digital age and project the image of being fertile soil for new business models at home and abroad. The Premier maintains that Quebec will be a player that will take full advantage of the opportunities created by new global digital trends, and Bill 100 is the first test. We have to get it right.”
The Board of Trade’s brief can be consulted here.
About the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is made up of over 7,000 members. Its mission is to be the voice of Montréal’s business community and to promote the city’s prosperity. It is involved in key areas of economic development, advocating a philosophy of action based on engagement, credibility, proactivity, collaboration, and innovation. The Board of Trade also offers a range of specialized services to individuals and to businesses of all sizes to support them in their growth at home and abroad.
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Advisor, Media Relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Phone: 514 871-4000, extension 4042
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