Taxi drivers protest as Bill 17 hearings get underway

Taxi drivers were protesting outside of the National Assembly in Quebec City Wednesday as hearings got underway on Bill 17, the CAQ bill aimed at deregulating the taxi industry.

Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel contends the bill will help level the playing field by allowing taxi drivers to charge variable rates, like Uber.

The drivers, however, say the bill will punish them, because their taxi permits will become worthless and leave them in debt.

Opposition parties are criticizing the bill, saying taxi drivers deserve better compensation.

“I hope the government will start negotiating with them as quickly as possible, because it’s not good for anybody, the current situation,” said interim Liberal leader Pierre Arcand.

PQ MNA Joel Arseneau agreed that deregulation isn’t the way to go.

“We’re against the principle of deregulation all out. We’re against ‘Uberization’ of the industry. We think the government is ill-informed in wanting to go so fast without listening to some of the people here,” he said.

The government is offering $500 million in compensation to taxi drivers

Hearings on the bill continue until next month.