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Uber to cease operations in Quebec over new rules

2017-09-27 08:44

TENSE TIMES: Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec's general manager, speaks at a news conference in Montreal, September 26. Ride-hailing company Uber says it will cease operating in Quebec on October 14, if the province doesn't rescind new rules introduced last week. Image: AP / Ryan Remiorz

Montreal -  Uber said Tuesday it will cease operations in Quebec next month if the province doesn't rescind new rules introduced last week, including one to require the ride-hailing app's drivers have more training.

Quebec's government dismissed the ultimatum.

Quebec Uber boss Jean-Nicolas Guillemette said the service will stop operating Oct. 14 if the government doesn't back down.

Training hours required

Transport Minister Laurent Lessard announced Friday (September 22) that Uber drivers would be required to undergo the same number of training hours as traditional taxi drivers — 35, instead of the 20 hours required previously.

Quebec also is requiring Uber drivers to get background checks, but Uber voiced objections only to the training rule.

Guillemette said the rule would make it impossible for Uber to continue in Quebec. He said the vast majority of Uber's drivers work part-time and there are no training requirements in any other Canadian city. He called it a "deal breaker."

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"Trying to impose on us the same thing that is currently done in the old taxi industry, I don't think it will help us to move forward," he said

Quebec's government said it would not back down.

"I am very surprised that a big company, a big multinational like Uber, can't find a way to use its application to train its drivers," the transport minister said at a news conference in Quebec City.

"I am firm in my intention," Lessard said. "We are not in negotiation mode. They should look to see how they can meet our standard."

Driver morale is low

Uber's announcement also was dismissed by the mayor of Montreal, which is Quebec's largest city. "We need to have some regulation and if they threaten to leave I don't care," Mayor Denis Coderre told BNN news channel..

Uber, founded in 2010 in San Francisco, has often faced opposition as it expanded. Taxi drivers complain that Uber drivers don't have to comply with the same licensing standards, arguing that gives Uber an unfair advantage and puts the public at risk.

Alexander Cioc, a 26-year-old who drives for Uber, said morale among his fellow drivers is low. He said drivers have to pay for the training the government requires.

"I know a lot of drivers who are quitting Uber," he said.

Last week in Britain, authorities in London said Uber's license would not be renewed when it expires Sept. 30, citing a lack of corporate responsibility. The city's transportation agency, Transport for London, said the factors it considered included Uber's "approach to reporting serious criminal offenses" and its use of software designed to evade authorities. 

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