March 26, 2019 11:53 am
Updated: March 26, 2019 5:45 pm

Taxi drivers stage protests, take concerns over Bill 17 to province’s transport minister

WATCH: Quebec taxi drivers are upset with the province’s plan to deregulate the taxi industry. As Global's Elysia Bryan-Baynes reports, taxi drivers met with Transport Minister François Bonnardel over Bill 17.

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Taxi drivers in Montreal and Quebec City took to more protests on Tuesday.

In the province’s capital, dozens of cars gathered in a parking lot in the Sainte-Foy borough at dawn.

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They left their meeting spot to drive slowly to the National Assembly, where they protested.

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In Montreal, taxi driver representatives met with Transport Minister François Bonnardel to express their dissatisfaction with Bill 17, which was tabled last week as a way to deregulate the taxi industry and get rid of expensive fees.

It would allow drivers to charge a variable rate, similar to Uber and Lyft. It would abolish taxi permits, which means the ones drivers have now would become obsolete.

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Taxi drivers argue they have paid astronomical sums for their licenses — up to $200,000 in some cases — and are demanding better compensation. On Tuesday, Bonnardel said that the compensation would work about to approximately $77,000 per permit holder.

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Bonnardel said he is open to solutions and will meet again with representatives from the taxi industry, but he hopes the bill will be passed before the summer.

People with disabilities at the barricades

The Alliance des Regroupements des Usagers du Transport Adapté du Québec (ARUTAQ), which represents about 120,000 people with disabilities who use paratransit are also protesting Bill 17.

The organization argues Bonnardel’s bill “no longer recognizes the need for transport of disabled people” and does not have “provisions that ensure access to taxi transportation are tailored to their particular needs.”

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ARUTAQ notes that the taxi industry helps make up 70 per cent of the trips required by people with disabilities to go to school, work, receive health care or visit loved ones — a total of six million trips a year.

The alliance argues the number of people in need of paratransit is increasing, particularly because of the aging population.

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Hassan Kattoua, known as the “Taxi Sheriff,” says the next step will be for drivers to completely stop offering adapted transit in the city of Montreal as a pressure tactic.

— with files from Global’s Elysia Bryan-Baynes The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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