Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced Thursday that his newly appointed transport minister, André Fortin, would be holding talks with the ride-hailing company Uber.
Last month, the company said it would cease operations in Quebec on Oct. 14 because it was unhappy with government regulations imposed on its drivers, calling them “challenging.”
Some of the contested regulations include submitting drivers to criminal background checks performed by police, rather than a private company, and increasing the hours of mandatory training from 20 hours to 35 hours — the same number of hours required for taxi drivers.
Couillard insisted that re-opening negotiations with the company did not mean the province would give in to Uber’s demands.
“The point is not for us to submit to a multi-national,” Couillard said.
Couillard also said that any negotiations with Uber, resulting in modifications to the current agreement, needed to take into account the impact on Quebec’s taxi industry.
“If there is some modification made with Uber, the same should apply to the cab drivers too,” he said.
Couillard even went so far as to promise compensation to cab drivers for devalued taxi permits.
“And let me also say, if there are — and it seems that there are — economic consequences for the cab drivers, we will compensate them.”
Taxi driver Hassan Katoua says that is just another line: “the government has lost its credibility a long time ago,” he told Global News.
When Uber first entered the market in Quebec, it operated illegally outside the government-controlled permit system, thereby increasing the offer and diluting the value of the permits.
For the last year, Uber has been operating legally under a pilot-project, the terms of which were under review when the company announced it would pull out of the province.
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— With files from the Canadian Press