February 16, 2016 9:53 pm

Uber pressures Alberta to act on insurance, licensing before March

The Uber logo is seen in front of protesting taxi drivers who were depositing a request for an injunction against the ride sharing company at the courthouse Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in Montreal.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
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Uber is pushing the provincial government to act on rules regarding ride sharing before Edmonton’s new bylaw comes into effect March 1.

In January, Edmonton city council passed new regulations that would allow ride-sharing services to operate in the city legally, as long as drivers had adequate commercial insurance.

READ MORE: Edmonton becomes first city in Canada to legislate ride sharing 

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Uber launched an awareness campaign Tuesday, asking drivers and passengers to ask their MLA to act on the licensing and insurance issues before the end of February. If the provincial government does not respond, Uber said it will be forced to stop operating in Alberta.

“Without approval by the NDP government before March 1, thousands of Albertans will lose their ability to earn by providing rides, and tens of thousands will lose access to a much needed transportation option,” Uber said in a statement. “We are eager for continued collaboration with the province and are hopeful they will act soon.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Don Iveson’s office said Edmonton has done “everything it can on this file.”

“City council has done what it needed to do. The condition is they [drivers] have to have proper insurance in place by March 1.”

During bylaw discussions, council was told city administration had been in contact with the province about potential insurance options.

“Alberta is committed to finding an appropriate solution allowing ride share companies to operate in a fair manner, while also protecting drivers, passengers, and other road users,” said Aileen Machell from the Ministry of Transportation. “Issues that need to be addressed include insurance and driver licensing to ensure the public is protected. Government is currently looking at options.”

Intact has been working with Uber and provincial regulators on a product for ride-sharing drivers. On Feb. 1, Uber said Intact completed its full submission for approval.

READ MORE: Intact insurance working with Uber on new products for ride sharing 

Aviva was also speaking with the Alberta regulator about ride-sharing insurance options. The company received approval from the Ontario regulator earlier this month.

“Hopefully that can be a template for Alberta provincial government consideration,” Iveson said Feb. 1. “But really, that’s between them, but I encourage them to resolve that speedily so that we can register people lawfully and fully under the bylaw.”

A private transportation provider (i.e.: Uber driver) must have adequate insurance in order to obtain a licence from the city. Operating without that licence means the city can take enforcement action against them.

“Anyone who is outside those things is breaking our vehicle-for-hire bylaw,” Iveson said. “The fines are substantial. The penalties are severe.”

While Calgary’s mayor declined to comment, a spokesperson from his office said the city has been consistent in stressing proper insurance “is a must” for ride-sharing companies to operate.

Calgary city council will debate proposed changes to its Livery Transport Bylaw on Feb. 22.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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