In wake of proposed regulations, Uber threatens to pull out of Quebec on October 14th

Montrealers may soon have to revert to hailing cabs the traditional way.

In a press conference yesterday, Uber Quebec’s general director Jean-Nicolas Guillemette announced that Uber will shut down in Quebec on October 14th if the company can’t come to an agreement with the provincial government.

The decision is a result of the government’s announcement last Friday that the company’s pilot program in the province had been renewed, but on the condition that the company work to improve driver training and passenger safety and modernize the existing taxi fleet.

Quebec’s minister of transportation Laurent Lessard announced that Uber drivers would have to undergo a police background check, while also taking on an additional 15 hours of training.

Background checks were previously handled by a private company employed by Uber, while potential Uber drivers were expected to undergo 20 hours of government-mandated training.

“We tried to ensure that we could do things right and comply with regulations…but we did not imagine that we’d have to make this announcement today,” said Guillemette.

The chief issue seems to be with the the implementation of 35 hours of mandatory training for drivers, although the police background check also poses problems.

“In particular, we’re talking about mandatory training of 35 hours, which has never been seen in this sharing economy,” said Guillemette.

Because most of Uber’s drivers only work part time, the fear is that potential employees will be put off my the mandatory amount of training. Guillemette compared the requirement to forcing Airbnb renters to undergo training just to rent out their place once or twice in a year. Quebec is the only part of Canada trying to impose regulations like this on companies that are part of the sharing economy.

Guillemette did emphasize at the press conference that Uber is open to negotiations, and hopes they can come to an agreement before the October 14th deadline.

“Of course we are not against training,” said Guillemette. “What we’ve developed is an on-going training program depending on the needs of the drivers.”

Currently Uber has around 10,000 drivers in Quebec, and in the past year users have taken approximately eight million trips with the app. About one million people have used the app across the province.

Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/AP


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