December 6, 2018 12:20 pm
Updated: December 6, 2018 6:45 pm

Saskatchewan rideshare rules take effect Dec. 14, pending municipal bylaws

Provincial rules for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have been approved, but there's one last roadblock before they can get going. David Baxter reports.

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Drivers looking to supplement their income by signing up with a rideshare company like TappCar, Uber or Lyft can soon hit the road in Saskatchewan. Provincial rideshare rules come into effect Dec. 14, but municipalities will still need to pass local bylaws.

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Eligible rideshare drivers will need to have a commercial class license (Class 1-4) or Class 5 as long as specific conditions are met.

Class 5 drivers will need to be an experienced driver not in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, have at least two years post-GDL experience and a “satisfactory” driving history.  

That means having fewer than 12 points in the Driver Improvement Program and no impaired driving-related suspensions in the past 10 years.

The same licensing options are being extended to taxi and limo drivers. Those drivers can continue to use a Class 4 license, or a Class 5 if they meet the aforementioned requirements.

Ridesharing companies will need to hold at least $1 million in liability coverage for all affiliated drivers and vehicles.  

READ MORE: Insurance pit stops still exist on road to Sask. ride sharing

Certain rules still need to be made by municipalities, according to the City of Regina website. Municipalities are responsible for rules on vehicle and equipment standards, the number of rideshare drivers, local company licensing plus fees and rates.

“After extensive consultation with numerous stakeholders – including rideshare and taxi companies, municipalities and law enforcement – SGI has developed a provincial framework that strikes a good balance between public demand and safety,” Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) Joe Hargrave said. 

READ MORE: Saskatoon city committee debates ride-sharing regulations

“Ridesharing will provide Saskatchewan residents more ways to get around in the province, and another option for planning a safe ride home.”

Hargrave previously said he wanted to release the ridesharing regulations in the fall. When asked why the delay to the start of winter, he said the province wanted to make sure it covered all bases in the consultation process.

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said city council will not be able to discuss local rideshare bylaws until early next year. He added there needed to be a balance between the needs of taxis and rideshare.

“Competition is a really good thing, it will make both industries better. It will serve the public better, but we want to make sure we have a level playing field that the inspections, the licensing, the insurance and all these things are fair for both sides,” Fougere said.

Saskatoon city council already has draft rideshare regulations in place. Ward 4 city councillor Troy Davies said that there is talk of calling an emergency meeting as early as Friday, in order to get ridesharing on the agenda for the Dec. 17 city council meeting.

“I just want to make sure that we have every option available so no one’s driving drunk, especially around Christmas time. So for me and the medics I’m representing here today, this is something we wanted to see before Christmas,” he said.

Davies works for MD Ambulance, in addition to his council responsibilities.

Rideshare companies excited; taxis disappointed

During the summer, Lyft said it would be nearly impossible to come to Saskatchewan under the then proposed insurance rules that would charge individual drivers. Now the company is “thrilled” to see the approved regulations.

“I want to recognize the hard work of Premier Scott Moe and Minister Joe Hargrave in creating a framework that will allow ridesharing companies to provide a new form of reliable and affordable transportation in communities across the province,” Lyft managing director for Canada Aaron Zifkin said.

“We look forward to working with municipalities to develop bylaws that will bring Lyft to Saskatchewan in the near future.”

READ MORE: Rideshare company Lyft says Sask. license requirements make operations ‘nearly impossible’

Uber also said it is looking forward to working with municipalities on the upcoming bylaw process.

“Saskatchewan will become the first province with a public auto-insurer to create a blanket auto-insurance policy to ensure that every ridesharing trip has consistent coverage. It is a model for other provinces with public auto-insurance systems,” Uber spokesperson Jean-Christophe de Le Rue said.

The Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association (STCA) said it was “deeply disappointed” in a press release. Their main disappointment is the provision allowing Class 5 drivers to sign up for rideshare. Prior to upcoming changes, taxi drivers need a Class 4 or higher.

“The government just increased safety regulations on commercial truck drivers. To adopt higher standards for one industry while lowering them for another, one that transports people and not just goods, makes no sense,” STCA member Carlo Triolo said.

The STCA said that Class 4 training requires a road sign and vision test, vehicle inspection prior to the road test and submitting a medical form that self-declares health issues and allows SGI to contact their physician. The STCA

“The decision to allow … drivers to transport people with nothing more than a Class 5 driver’s license completely invalidates the training and commitment to safety of over 70,000 people in Saskatchewan who already have a higher driver classification that would allow them to drive a taxi,” STCA member Scott Suppes said.

MADD Canada is also among those welcoming the change.

“By establishing provincial rules to enable ridesharing, the Government of Saskatchewan is providing a framework for an industry that will provide more safe rides and be an effective partner in the effort to end impaired driving,” MADD Canada regional manager Michelle Okere said.

Okere added in jurisdictions with ridesharing, MADD Canada has seen a five per cent decline in impaired driving.

More information on the regulations is available on SGI’s website at sgi.sk.ca/rideshare.

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