Ride-sharing companies have quickly come to dominate the taxi market.
The convenience and accessibility of Uber has made its services ubiquitous on Saturday nights especially in Montreal, where a young population and booming nightlife have come to rely on ride-shares.
Montreal taxi drivers, have bemoaned this massive change in the industry. The taxi industry has tried repeatedly to get Uber banned from the city. Drivers have staged protests and pursued court cases but to no avail. Uber is here to stay.
For that reason the provincial government of Quebec has decided to offer compensation to taxi drivers whose business has suffered because of Uber.
A whopping total of $250 million in public funds is expected to go to drivers who have seen the value of their permits plummet from hundreds of thousands of dollars to just a few tens of thousands. More information is forthcoming from the government.
Many were quick to point out that, like it or not, this is just how capitalism works. New technologies, industries, and markets replace obsolete services. Workers in older industries have to adapt to changing times.
But instead of investing heavily in a transition to the new industry, the government is handing them cash to make up for the declining value of permits. Only $44 million will go toward improving taxi companies to help them compete in changing times.
Taxi drivers deserve secure livelihoods. But is this the best use of public funds? Lump sums will not help those drivers in the long term.