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Quebec transport minister open to boosting compensation for taxi drivers

Taxi drivers demonstrate against Bill 17, legislation modifying the taxi industry, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 near the legislature in Quebec City.
Taxi drivers demonstrate against Bill 17, legislation modifying the taxi industry, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 near the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Legault government is open to increasing the compensation package it plans on giving to taxi drivers under Bill 17.

Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel has insisted that the $500-million offer is final, but on Thursday he changed his tune. He said he wants to receive proposals from the taxi industry.

READ MORE: Hundreds of taxi drivers protest Bill 17 in Quebec City

The move comes as several taxi companies demand the government properly compensate them.

The value of taxi licence permits — some of which cost up to $200,000 — will drop under the province’s proposed deregulation of the taxi industry.

Taxi drivers are asking for $1.3 billion, which they claim is the total value of their licences before the arrival of Uber. It is much higher than the province’s $500-million offer.

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WATCH BELOW: Taxi bill hearings begin

Quebec taxi bill hearings begin
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When asked about his willingness to provide more in compensation, Bonnardel said: “We are waiting for proposals from the industry.”

However, in the National Assembly on Thursday, he criticized industry representatives for not wanting to negotiate.

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

Several organizations, including the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce (FCCQ), asked Bonnardel on Wednesday to give more money to taxi drivers.

The official opposition has accused the Coalition Avenir Québec government of wanting to discuss the terms of payment of compensation before discussing the amount to be compensated.

— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise

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