Taxi drivers demand action at anti-Uber rally on Parliament Hill

Haley
Haley Ritchie
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Taxi drivers from Toronto and Ottawa gathered Tuesday on Parliament Hill to call on the federal government to shut down ride-sharing company Uber.

Amrik Singh, president of the Ottawa chapter of Unifor that represents taxi drivers in the city, speaks to the crowd on Tuesday.

“Parliament Hill is a national stage and Uber is a national issue,” said Amrik Singh, president of the Ottawa chapter of Unifor, which represents taxi drivers in the city.

“The municipalities are struggling to control Uber. They just don’t have the resources. That’s why we want the federal government to get involved,” said Singh.

Drivers who came from Toronto estimated their turnout to be numbering around 400, but guards on Parliament Hill said the total number of the crowd was likely around 350 to 400 people.

Drivers and their unions say the ride-sharing company is eating into profits and not paying the same taxes and fees.

While many cities, including Ottawa, have committed to reviewing by-laws, drivers from both cities say not enough is being done.

“We believe the municipal level of government (and) the provincial level are not doing what they should be doing,” said Karam Bunian, a taxi driver at Toronto’s Pearson Airport who bussed to Ottawa.

He said the Canada Revenue Agency should be investigating whether Uber drivers are paying proper HST. The crowd repeatedly called on the prime minister to intervene to protect “middle-class jobs.”

“The unfortunate thing is all three levels of government are looking at each other and doing nothing. We hope they listen,” said Mr. Bunian.

At least a few elected members were listening. Brampton-East MP Raj Grewal appeared at the event to offer his support to the rally.

“I’m the son of a taxi cab driver,” he said to a cheering crowd. “The taxi industry has put food on my table, clothes on my back. It’s the reason I was able to become a lawyer. I’ll never forget that and I’ll always be with the taxi industry.”

This article originally appeared on metronews.ca on Feb. 2

Organizations: Pearson Airport, Canada Revenue Agency

Geographic location: Ottawa, Toronto

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  • Peter QUINLAN
    February 02, 2016 - 19:52

    Taxi Drivers: lower your rates. (with gas prices continuing to drop, no reason not to); provide better service ( uniforms? Cleaner vehicles, more personalized service--learn the city & the language). UBER is the best thing to happen to this over-charged industry in a long time. Next priority is to expand light rail to the airport ASAP ( like in Toronto).