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THE CANADIAN government said it was looking to put together a financial package to help taxi drivers whose cab permits have dropped in value because of e-hail ride companies.

Taxi permits were brought in by the Canadian government to control the number of cabs and have previously been sold for sums of up to $200,000 (£118,000) on digital billboards such as Craigslist. But, a recent investigation by the Montreal Gazette newspaper found that the value of licences had dropped in value by up to 20 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

Transport minister Andre Fortin said:

We’re talking about a compensation package that has to be discussed with the industry to see how we can best meet their needs. The government is putting together a working group, composed of members of the industry and the finance department, to work out how best to compensate drivers for the lost value of their permits.

Fortin said the government was also prepared to look at the viability of the current permit system. At present, there are two classes of ‘For-Hire’ drivers. Those who drive taxis and have to buy a permit and those who drive for companies like Uber and don’t have to pay for a licence.

The transport minister added: “I think this is something that we will have to look at over the long term. To see what the taxi industry thinks would provide a more equitable framework.

“We’re talking about real families who have made a real investment, based on a system that was established by the government with an expectation of revenue and that landscape is now changing.”

Taxi drivers welcomed the government initiative but said it had been a long time coming. Cabbie Patrick Saint Fluer said: “They have let this drag on and in the meantime, drivers have lost their taxis and homes.”

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PHC Magazine

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