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City of Toronto Hits the Gas Pedal on Ride-Sharing

May 5, 2016

After years of controversy, Uber in Toronto will be able to stick around as city council approves new rules regulating the ride-sharing industry.

In an email sent to riders the day after city council approved new rules regulating the ride-sharing industry, Uber says, “We here to stay.” Good news for its subscribers and the more than 20,000 UberX drivers in Toronto.

Not the first city, but the largest in Canada to legalize ride-shares

Toronto is not the first city in Canada to amend its bylaws to accommodate ride-sharing. In fact, it was Edmonton who led the way early in 2016.

Uber in Edmonton however, ran into a few bumps along the road even after given the go ahead by the city. Part of the city’s bylaw requires drivers to show proof of the proper insurance. At the time however, proper insurance meant commercial auto insurance, which for a part-time Uber driver can be pricey. There was an alternative policy, a ride-sharing insurance policy, that was developed, but it has not yet been given the final stamp of approval by the province’s superintendent of insurance. It’s expected that this policy will be available by July 1, 2016. In the meantime, Uber has temporarily suspended their services in Edmonton.

Could something like this happen in Toronto too?

Unlikely, as the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) earlier in the year approved Aviva Canada’s personal coverage for ride-sharing drivers. To date, Aviva is the only auto insurance provider that offers coverage to Ontario Uber drivers; the coverage is an add-on to your existing Aviva-insured personal auto insurance policy. It’s expected that more options will be available to ride-sharing drivers by the end of the year.

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What are some of Toronto’s regulations on Uber and Uber drivers?

Now that the city has amended its bylaws, what can companies like Uber (also called Private Transportation Companies or PTCs), their drivers and riders expect? The following are five of the many regulations that were approved:

  1. PTCs will have to provide the city details on each of its drivers. The documentation that will be required includes: the driver’s full name; copy of their driver’s licence; vehicle registration; criminal background check; certificate of insurance; vehicle inspection certificate; and driving record. These documents will need to be submitted annually for renewal.
  2. Drivers will have to provide confirmation that their personal auto insurance company knows that they offer, or intend to offer, rides through Uber; and that such activities are covered under their policy. Each driver must have at least $2,000,000 in liability coverage.
  3. Base fares will be raised from $2.50 to $3.25.
  4. Vehicles can be any four-door vehicle so long as it’s no more than 7-years-old, and carries a maximum of 7 passengers. Additionally, vehicles must be inspected every six months to ensure they’re safe and fit for the road, and in winter, will require to sport all-weather tires.
  5. While “open for business” and ferrying or picking up customers, Uber vehicles will need to have signage so that they’re easier to identify.

Uber across Canada

Uber’s success across Canada has been hit-and-miss. While Toronto, Edmonton and Ottawa have approved bylaws that Uber appears to be able to work with, Calgary’s bylaws—according to Uber—are unworkable.

The same may be true soon for Uber in Quebec where Transport Minister Jacques Daoust is expected to table legislation in the National Assembly that essentially treats Uber drivers the same as taxi drivers. If true and passed, Uber has indicated that they’ll have to leave the province.