'Bye-bye. I don't care': Montreal mayor on Uber's threat to leave Quebec
Daksha Rangan, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, September 26, 2017 7:27AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 26, 2017 6:06PM EDT
Uber is threatening to leave Quebec if the province imposes tougher industry regulations, but Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre isn’t too troubled by the warning.
“Bye-bye. I don’t care,” Coderre told BNN on Tuesday when asked about Uber’s potential withdrawal.
“Frankly, we need to have some regulation, and if they threat[en] to leave, I don’t care.”
But Uber Quebec’s general manager Jean-Nicolas Guillemette says the province already imposes the most “severe” regulations on Uber in Canada.
Adding to the existing regulations, Quebec’s Transport Minister Laurent Lessard announced last week that Uber drivers will soon be required to undergo 35 hours of training. Uber said that requirement will make it impossible for the company to continue operating in the province beyond Oct. 14.
Drivers would also be subject to mandatory police background checks, rather than conducting background checks through a private company as Uber currently does.
Uber launched in Quebec last year when the province signed an agreement on a one-year pilot project with the popular rideshare company. The agreement gave room for a one-year extension before a new law would have to come into effect.
Lessard said the government planned to extend the agreement, but only if Uber complied with the new training requirements and mandatory police background checks.
While Guillemette said the company isn’t against the background checks, the training is non-negotiable.
“The vast majority of our drivers are part-time," Guillemette said at a Montreal press conference on Tuesday.
Often, drivers test the Uber experience for a few hours before deciding to commit to regular service. Thirty-five hours of training before trying the Uber platform would destroy the company’s business model, he added.
“The problem with Uber is the way they have been conducting themselves,” Coderre told BNN. “They’re very condescending in thinking they own everything, so, I’m sorry. It’s not my cup of tea.”
Taxi drivers have also been disgruntled with Uber’s presence since the company entered the market, evading decades-old limitations on costly taxi permits in Quebec.
“I don’t have a problem with competition, but at least we need to make sure that it’s on fair regulation, everybody has to follow them,” Coderre said.
“[I]t’s kind of an illegal taxi industry . . . at the same time we have thousands and thousands of people who are working here and paid a lot of money for their permits.”
Of the 10,000 people who drive for Uber in Quebec, Guillemette said the hours worked add up to 3,000 full-time jobs province-wide.
Uber driver Rodolfo Estrada, who has been with the company for more than a year, says he doesn’t think more training is necessary.
“All the Uber drivers have C4 - it's the license for taxis,” Estrada told CTV Montreal, referring to Quebec’s Class 4C driver's license. “I don't understand why we must make more hours, I don't understand that.”
But Estrada says if he had no other choice, he would do the extra training.
“If the only condition is that, what’s the problem?” Estrada told CTV Montreal.
Coderre agrees, saying that an ultimatum is not the answer.
“My question is ‘why?’ Why are they leaving because they need extra training?” he said at a Montreal press conference.
“They should have to train more, they’re dealing with people and it’s a safety issue.”
With files from The Canadian Press, BNN, and CTV Montreal