Ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft are applauding Saskatchewan’s announced insurance regulations for the new service, but the province’s taxi companies are calling the rules a “step backwards” for safety.
The provincial government announced the new regulations on Thursday, which include mandating ride sharing drivers to have annual criminal record checks and vehicle inspections, $1 million in liability insurance and at least a Class 5 driver’s licence.
The rules go into effect on Dec. 14, allowing municipalities to officially develop and pass their own bylaws to open the doors for ride sharing services.
“We look forward to working with municipalities, especially Saskatoon and Regina, as they work to update bylaws to launch more transportation options like Uber,” said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, an Uber Canada spokesperson, in a statement.
Aaron Zifkin, Lyft’s managing director for Canada, echoed Uber’s enthusiasm.
“We are thrilled that the province has approved regulations that enable ride sharing to complement existing transportation services in Saskatchewan,” he wrote in a statement.
“I want to recognize the hard work of Premier Scott Moe and Minister Joe Hargrave in creating a framework that will allow ride sharing companies to provide a new form of reliable and affordable transportation in communities across the province.”
Saskatoon’s city council has already outlined the rules they want to see in a temporary bylaw governing ride sharing, and a final vote could happen on Dec. 17.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere suggested Thursday the Queen City’s rules won’t be passed until early 2019.
Taxi companies ‘deeply disappointed’ in regulations
The Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association (STCA) representing taxi companies issued a scathing statement denouncing the regulations.
“We are deeply disappointed by the government of Saskatchewan’s decision,” United Cabs General Manager Carlo Triolo said in the statement.
The organization took issue with the province’s call to allow ride share drivers to possess a basic Class 5 licence, as long as they maintain a safe driving record with less than 12 demerits.
“The government just increased safety regulations on commercial truck drivers. To adopt higher standards for one industry while lowering them for another, one that transports people … makes no sense,” Triolo said.
STCA has stated they don’t oppose ride sharing as a concept, but its members have lobbied city councils and the province to maintain a “level playing field” by requiring companies like Uber and Lyft to adhere to the same rules taxis do — including in-car cameras and criminal record checks.
–With files from 650 CKOM’s Erin McNutt, Bryn Levy and Chris Vandenbreekel and 980 CJME’s Jessie Anton.