Tough luck if you need a taxi in Montreal today. This morning at 7 AM, taxi drivers in Montreal and around the province began a one-day strike to protest a new bill proposed by the CAQ government.
Taxis in Montreal won't be picking up any clients until 7 PM tonight.
I briefly spoke with a representative from Quebec's taxi union and he told me that drivers won't be responding to calls and that the customer service centres will be closed for the day. I also tried calling four of Montreal's major taxi companies and none of them picked up the phone. This strike is real and will greatly affect today's commute in the province.
TL;DR Taxi drivers are on strike across Quebec today, protesting Bill 17, a new proposal by the CAQ government that will abolish the need for taxi permits, remove regional restrictions, and impose a universal standard for training and background checks. Union representatives claim that this new bill could spell the end for the taxi industry in Quebec and will allow ride-sharing programs to run rampant.
Quebec's taxi industry is angry with the CAQ government because of a new proposal that was tabled this past week. Bill 17 is primarily focused on abolishing taxi permits, along with removing territorial boundaries for taxi drivers. Taxi unions are striking because they say that this new bill will put even more pressure on an already endangered industry.
With some taxi permits costing upwards of $150,000, taxi drivers are understandably upset because this bill means that their investment was for nothing. Uber drivers, on the other hand, don't need permits and are ill-trained at times. Uber critics say that the ride-sharing service has no accountability and runs rampant in Quebec.
The CAQ government plans on compensating drivers for their permits, with $500 million earmarked in compensation packages that will be spread amongst taxi drivers in Quebec.
According to CBC News, some taxi union representatives are calling the new government taxi reforms "an act of war".
Keep in mind that Uber doesn't pay Corporate Income Tax in Canada and provides little benefits and security for their drivers. All Uber drivers are considered "independent contractors" and have to pay their own taxes.
Strikes are funny things. Taxi drivers striking in Québec today certainly doesn't move my needle to their side. (Hmmm, people with too much control over an industry already are withholding service to show that they want to retain control??????)— Scott Stoddard (@s_stoddard) March 25, 2019
Taxi drivers in Quebec are making matters worse for themselves with this strike. Disabled transport on strike too? Bad move. Thinking of switching to alternate transport now. Their beef is with government, why punish passengers?— Lorrie Beauchamp (@lorriebeauchamp) March 25, 2019
The strike comes with much scrutiny from the Quebec public, as people are confused at their motives. The taxi industry as a whole suffers from a serious image problem at times. Be that as it may, the fact that taxi drivers could suffer huge financial losses is inconsiderate and short-sighted.
During the last taxi strike, drivers blocked access to some bridges and caused huge traffic delays on many Quebec highways, which hasn't endeared them to the Quebec public.
People who rely on taxi service will have to find another way to get around today because of this strike. It seems that Uber is taking advantage of this because as of 9:30 AM, there's a 1.5x fare surge. Keep an eye on the surge fees today, we all know Uber loves to take advantage of a situation.
Drivers are to expect major delays on the highways in Montreal as taxis are delaying traffic en masse, driving at a snail's pace.
Taxibus service provided by the STM and the STL for the sick and elderly will honour appointments and will continue to provide service for medical appointments and emergencies.
Please send us any photos or videos of the taxi strike should you run into it today!
Stay tuned for more updates