Videos Showing Angry Taxi Drivers Striking, Disrupting Traffic In Montreal – MTL Blog

Videos Showing Angry Taxi Drivers Striking, Disrupting Traffic In Montreal - MTL Blog
Quebec taxi drivers stop working, slow traffic over proposed changes to industry
Files: MONTREAL, QC.: FEBRUARY 10, 2016 — Montreal's taxi driver Abdel Ghani marches toward the P.E. Trudeau Airport to protest against Uber, on Wednesday February 10, 2016, Giovanni Capriotti / Postmedia

Taxis are not operating in Gatineau on Monday as drivers join a province-wide strike to protest provincial legislation that would deregulate the industry.

Were not naïve. Our fight is not to get rid of Uber, our fight is to keep our industry alive. Our fight has always been to modernize, he said. I dont see any modernization in his plan, I see elimination, expropriation. Boussios pointed to the measures the industry has taken in recent years, including implementing an app, moving toward using hybrid vehicles (80 per cent of the taxi fleet is hybrid, Boussios said), and using uniform signage on taxi vehicles. We followed all the rules and regulations – in good faith, I may add – and they just turned around and said thank you for spending all that money on apps, thank you for spending all that money on your call centres… and spending money on hybrid cars… thank you so much, but we dont need you anymore, he added.  

The legislation introduced last week will destroy the taxi industry, said Georges Nohra, who owns a plate and operates Georgis Taxi in Aylmer.

Bill 17 would deregulate the industry that transports people by removing costly requirements to drive a taxi and by allowing variable rates for their services, as is the case with Uber and other ride apps.

If the legislation is passed, the value of a taxi licence plate would plummet to virtually nothing, said Nohra in an interview Monday morning.

Taxi drivers have mortgaged their houses to buy plates in Gatineau for $200,000 to $250,000, said Nohra. Thousands of people in the province are supported by the income earned by taxi drivers, he said.

We work 16 hours every day and every driver doesnt see his family. Many problems exist because of this, he said. Lots of depression, lots of people get sick. Drivers want to modernize Boussios said the taxi industrys goal isnt to eliminate ride-sharing apps, its to be more competitive.

MONTREAL, QUE.: March 25, 2019 — Police block taxis from entering the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Airport during a strike by taxi drivers as they protest new legislation deregulating parts of the taxi industry in Montreal, on Monday, March 25, 2019. Allen McInni / Postmedia

Taxi drivers in just about every region of Quebec are on strike Monday in an effort to urge the Quebec government not to pass Bill 17, which would deregulate the taxi industry. In Montreal, Quebec City and Laval, drivers organized slow-rolling protests to disrupt the flow of traffic.

Nohra said he was also concerned that safety will be compromised under de-regulation. “You can get your wife’s car and put a plate on it, just fill in an application…the safety won’t be as good.”

Some drivers said that the $500 million that will be given to drivers as compensation doesnt do enough, given the fall in value of taxi permits over the past few years.

About 180 cabs in Gatineau are participating in the protest, said Toni Fadel, owner of Bob Taxi. Drivers will, however, provide “essential services,” such as rides for people who need to travel for medical reasons, he said.

Its like you having a house, the next day you wake up and your value is zero, said Taxi Co-Op de LOuest driver Charles Artin. What do you think?

Gatineau taxi drivers planned to converge around noon on Monday around the Place du Portage government complex, but their goal is not to tie up traffic, he said.

We want the minister to upgrade Uber or all those applications to the level of taxi, said one driver. Not downgrade taxi to the level of this chaos.

The strike was confirmed Sunday afternoon when more than 1,000 taxi drivers and owners from around the province held a meeting in Montreal to discuss protest tactics.

The strike is the first of other protest gestures to come, said spokesmen for Quebec’s taxi associations. They said the tactics will not stop until Bill 17 is withdrawn.

More recently, in January cab company Teo Taxi announced it would cease operations, leaving 450 drivers without work. 

Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel announced the government would give $500 million to taxi drivers as compensation for the bill that would shake up the taxi industry if adopted — an amount derided as “peanuts” by people at the Sunday meeting.

We follow the law 100 per cent and theyre still against us and Uber doesnt follow any law, he said.

Calling the bill “irresponsible” and “inhuman,” speakers said it would force many drivers and owners into bankruptcy. “We want to protect our permits and the value of those permits,” said one.

Taxi Co-Op de LOuest driver Souheil Saade said the matter is about who follows the law and who doesnt.

Owners fear that taxi permits could eventually worthless if the law is passed. Already their value has decreased since the introduction of Uber and other ride-sharing apps.

The rumoured tactic was confirmed Sunday afternoon when more than 1,000 taxi drivers and owners from all around the province jammed into a hall in St-Léonard. It is the first of other protest gestures to come, said spokesmen for Quebec’s taxi associations. They said the tactics will not stop until Bill 17 is withdrawn. Drivers plan to protest on Monday at sites around the province, organizers said

Serge Lebreux, spokesperson for the Association des taxis des régions du Québec, said that, with the bill, the transport minister is attacking a symbol of multi-ethnicity. Many taxi drivers are immigrants.

She has five drivers driving for her, some who have been on the job since her husband was alive. The taxis are her only source of income and she has been able to get by. “I don’t live glamorously. No vacations. My priority is taking care of my kids and making sure my drivers are happy,” she said. “My drivers even know my kids. It’s almost like a family bond.”

Antonella Scalia Arcuri, who attended Sunday’s meeting, had five permits left to her when her husband died in 2012 at 41 of a brain aneurysm. The couple had been married for 30 months; their son was 17 months old and their daughter four months old.

“I was lucky,” she said. Friends of her husband and the general manager of Taxi Coop de l’Est, Joseph Naufal, “all joined to help me to catch up with the business.”

Transport Minister François Bonnardel announced the government would give $500 million to taxi drivers as compensation for the bill that would shake up the taxi industry if adopted — an amount derided as “peanuts” by people at the Sunday meeting.

She has five drivers driving for her, some who have been on the job since her husband was alive. The taxis are her only source of income and she has been able to get by. “I don’t live glamorously. No vacations. My priority is taking care of my kids and making sure my drivers are happy,” she said. “My drivers even know my kids. It’s almost like a family bond.”

The taxi drivers said that adapted transport trips already reserved through the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) would be honoured on Monday. The STM confirmed this on Sunday but said that its Taxibus service would be disrupted by the strike.

“One of my drivers just bought a house,” she said. “This is the worst thing the government could do to us. Where’s the humanity? What they are trying to is ruining the industry and families built on it.”

Antonella Scalia Arcuri, who attended Sunday’s meeting, had five permits left to her when her husband died in 2012 at 41 of a brain aneurysm. The couple had been married for 30 months; their son was 17 months old and their daughter four months old.

Taxi drivers upset with the Quebec government's proposed law aimed at deregulating the industry are staging protests across the province this morning, slowing traffic and forcing riders to find other means of transportation.

“One of my drivers just bought a house,” she said. “This is the worst thing the government could do to us. Where’s the humanity? What they are trying to is ruining the industry and families built on it.”

He re-mortgaged his house to buy his taxi permit, which cost more than $150,000. Permits will be a thing of the past under the proposed bill. He's worried he won't be able to afford his mortgage if the new law is approved.

Calling the bill “irresponsible” and “inhuman,” speakers said it would force many drivers and owners into bankruptcy. “We want to protect our permits and the value of those permits,” said one.

"We don't want to be Uber, you know," he said. "We like to be like a traditional taxi, like everywhere in the world."

Serge Lebreux, spokesperson for the Association des taxis des régions du Québec, said that, with the bill, the transport minister is attacking a symbol of multi-ethnicity. Many taxi drivers are immigrants.

If passed, Bill 17 would abolish taxi permits, remove territorial restrictions and impose a single set of requirements on all operators.

Owners fear that taxi permits that some bought for more than $200,000 could eventually worthless if the law is passed. Already their value has decreased since the introduction of Uber and other ride-sharing apps.

On Sunday, about 1,200 disgruntled taxi owners and drivers held a general meeting in Montreal to plan the pressure tactics. The strike is scheduled to run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I was lucky,” she said. Friends of her husband and the general manager of Taxi Coop de l’Est, Joseph Naufal, “all joined to help me to catch up with the business.”

The STM holds contracts with nine taxi companies. In a statement, the transit agency said all trips already reserved will be honoured save for those travelling to rehabilitation centres.

Quebec’s taxi drivers will be on strike Monday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to protest legislation tabled last week by the Legault government that would deregulate the taxi industry.

Drivers may also hold a protest in front of the offices of Quebec's transport commission, on Crémazie Boulevard.

Quebecs taxi drivers will be on strike Monday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to protest legislation tabled last week by the Legault government that would deregulate the taxi industry.

In Sherbrooke, the protest is expected to be a bit quieter. With not much competition from Uber, drivers there have decided they don't want to disrupt customers' lives as much and have instead decided to strike only from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

As of Sunday afternoon, four of Gatineau's five major taxi company owners — Aylmer Taxi, Bob Taxi, Crown/Régal and Taxi Loyal — had told Radio-Canada they intended to take part.

Taxi drivers argue Bill 17 will bankrupt an industry already struggling under the weight of competing ride-hailing services.

"The government wants to destroy our industry, we will destroy their agenda for a day, or two, or three," said Serge Lebreux, speaking on behalf of the taxi industry.

Taxi drivers' representatives are scheduled to meet Transport Minister François Bonnardel on Tuesday to discuss their grievances.

"It's their right not to provide service, but the dialogue will remain open with the industry to make an effective and respectful transition," the minister's office said Monday.

"We find it unfortunate that taxi drivers are putting off their customers, especially since a meeting is scheduled tomorrow between the minister and the industry representatives to discuss the bill and the compensation program."

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.