Quebec taxi drivers and transport minister find softer tone over Bill 17

Quebec taxi drivers protest against new legislation to deregulate the industry, Friday, April 5, 2019 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

A meeting between Quebec’s transport minister and taxi drivers struck a more conciliatory tone on Monday amid weeks of tension and escalating pressure tactics.

“We hope we will continue doing that in the future, but I cannot say anything was done today,” said Kamal Sabbah, a taxi industry representative.

The two sides convened in Montreal after thousands of taxi drivers held a protest on Friday, snarling traffic in the city’s downtown core for hours.

READ MORE: Thousands of protesting taxi drivers block traffic in downtown Montreal

The Coalition Avenir Québec government’s proposed reform was at the heart of the meeting. Bill 17 would deregulate part of the taxi industry and effectively lower the value of permits.

The province has offered what would amount to about $77,000 in compensation for each permit holder, but they argue the plan would bankrupt them. In Quebec, some taxi drivers have paid up to $200,000 for their licences.

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“We’re not happy today that our main problem is not fixed,” said Sabbah.

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

Quebec Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel described the meeting between himself and industry representatives as “productive” on social media.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue the conversation to ensure the vitality of this industry,” he said.

While taxi drivers say they are happy to be discussing solutions with the government, they say they have not yet found a solution. Taxi drivers also say they have not ruled out more protests and pressure tactics.

WATCH BELOW: Taxi drivers block traffic in downtown Montreal

Click to play video: 'Thousands of protesting taxi drivers block traffic in Montreal' Thousands of protesting taxi drivers block traffic in Montreal
Thousands of protesting taxi drivers block traffic in Montreal – Apr 5, 2019

— With files from Global News’ Elysia Bryan-Baynes and The Canadian Press


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