The Quebec taxi industry is putting a halt to all pressure tactics after a taxi driver tried to harm himself on a live television interview Friday morning.
Edgard El Kalani, a representative for a group representing taxi owners in Montreal says the move was necessary to protect drivers who are under mounting psychological distress after the government tabled Bill 17.
Bill 17 would deregulate the taxi industry and get rid of expensive fees. It would also abolish taxi permits which have cost drivers up to $200,000.
Transport Minister François Bonnardel said permit owners would be compensated with approximately $77,000 per permit holder.
Quebec taxi drivers were giving free rides for customers on Friday as a part of their pressure tactics. The taxi coalition would not receive any profits. “But this kind of tactic is putting those drivers under more and more financial pressure,” El Kaladi said.
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“This bylaw project is putting the taxi industry under bankruptcy,” said El Kalani.
El Kalani says people have invested their lives to work with these permits, seeking for a better future for their families, and Bonnardel’s project undermines those efforts. “The government cancelled all these years with the scratch of a pen,” El Kalani explained.
El Kalani is urging the government to reconsider its proposal. He says it was the government who created the permit system and it must pay the full value of permits if they want to change it.
In a press release, Bonnardel said he is “sincerely upset about what happened this morning” and “equally touched by the testimonies and human situations reported in the media.”
The minister added that he believes an open dialogue is important to ensure a harmonious transition and a sustainable traditional taxi industry.
“Discussions are still underway between your representatives and the government of Quebec and will continue for the next few weeks. Let’s give our dialogue a chance to succeed,” he said.
Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts is urged to call the Quebec Association for the Prevention of Suicide at 1-866-277-3553.
— With files from Global’s Rachel Lau and Elysia Bryan-Baynes