By LYNDEN TEMPLE / Staff reporterLYNDENS TAVERN, Alta.
– Justin Trudeau’s government has been criticized for allowing ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate freely in Canada, and critics say it’s doing little to combat the threat they pose.
The Liberal government is seeking to overturn a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court that allowed the service, which allow people to order, hire and pay for rides in-person, to operate in Canada.
The decision, which was criticized as a victory for the big players, was struck down in May, when a federal appeals court upheld the decision by the top court.
In the ruling, the court said that while ride-share companies are legal in Canada and allow for their own rules and regulations, their presence in the country poses a serious threat to the social and economic fabric of the country.
The ruling also said the government needs to consider the safety of its citizens and that there is no evidence that ride-hopping harms the health of Canadians.
The government is also calling for ride-sales to be regulated as fully as taxis, which it argues are also subject to similar laws.
Trudeau says that, by allowing ride sharing, the government is allowing the companies to be more transparent.
He said the same cannot be said for taxi services.
“The taxi industry is not regulated like a public utility,” Trudeau said Thursday in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“I think that that’s why it’s such a problem for people, because you can’t know what’s going on and you can never really be sure what you’re going to get.”
Trudeau said the federal government is taking steps to ensure that ride services are “robust and accountable.”
“The federal government has taken some very significant steps,” he said.
“We’re working to protect Canadians from the risk of ride-shares, and we’re going after ride-services that are doing things that are against the law.”
Tracking ride-service usageThe government has already taken steps to crack down on ride-hire companies, including setting up a new website to monitor their usage and making it easier for consumers to report problems.
In response, Lyft has been lobbying the federal and provincial governments to change their laws.
“It’s just another step in their ongoing attempt to impose more regulation and restrictions on what is already a very popular service,” Lyft spokesman Justin Levitan told CBC News.
“These companies have been doing what they’ve been doing for years, they’re just doing it more openly.
They are providing more services that are cheaper, they are offering services that will have fewer people in cars, and they are not making it a crime for people to share a ride with someone else.”
Trader Joe’s, a Toronto-based ride-harnessing service, said it is “shocked” that the government has not yet taken action.
“In the absence of any action from the federal or provincial governments, the company will continue to fight for the safety and security of our customers,” spokesman Tom Schmitt said in a statement.
Trading cards and personal informationTrading card companies, which are known for their “Trader-Joe’s” style of business, have been lobbying governments to require more privacy protections.
They have also called on Trudeau to appoint a privacy commissioner.
“While we support the concept of privacy, it is imperative that governments protect the public’s personal information, particularly if the government intends to regulate or prohibit the use of personal information by any government agency,” the Canadian Bankers Association wrote in a letter to Trudeau on Thursday.
TraderJoe’s says it’s been in touch with Trudeau’s office and is willing to support the government’s plan.