PROVINCE OKS REGULATIONS
Ride-sharing moves a step closer
Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft will soon be allowed to operate in Saskatchewan although the final say on starting dates, rules and regulations will come from the cities.
Months after unveiling the Vehicles for Hire Act and touting it as another tool to combat the high impaired driving numbers in Saskatchewan, the province announced Thursday that ride-sharing regulations have been approved and will take effect Dec. 14.
At that point, it will be up to the municipalities to decide how and when ride-shares become reality.
The act gives municipalities responsibility for issuing licences, deciding how licences are allocated, and setting fees, rates or fares.
In Saskatoon, the city has said regulations will be introduced shortly after the provincial legislation is finalized.
The next scheduled city council meeting at which a vote on the final bylaw could be held is set for Dec. 17.
In Regina,a city spokeswoman said last week a report on policy and bylaws would be sent once the province announced its final legislation.
According to the province, rideshare drivers transporting passengers will have the option to use a commercial class licence or a Class 5 licence if they meet conditions, among them a safe driving record (including less than 12 points in the previous two years under the province’s driver improvement program), no suspensions related to impaired driving in the previous decade, and being at least two years removed from the graduated driver licensing program.
“After extensive consultation with numerous stakeholders, including ride-share and taxi companies, municipalities and law enforcement, SGI has developed a provincial framework that strikes a good balance between public demand and safety,” Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said in a statement.
MADD Canada regional manager Michelle Okere said in a statement that “Saskatchewan has some of the strongest impaired driving legislation in the country, but in addition to having effective legislation and strong penalties, it is crucial to ensure the availability of safe, convenient and reliable transportation options.”
The Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association on Thursday said it was “deeply disappointed” with the legislation, calling it a “step backwards for public safety.”
It questioned why only a Class 5 licence will be required for rideshare drivers, coming shortly after safety regulations for commercial truck drivers were strengthened. The STCA also noted that Uber and Lyft operators in Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia require Class 4 licences. According to the STCA, Saskatoon taxis “will not, under any circumstances,” require less than a Class 4 licence, “regardless of the province’s decision.”
Taxi and limousine drivers will have the same driver’s licence options as ride-share drivers, the province said.