New Developments for the Sharing Economy

A number of new developments this week changed the landscape for Uber, and other companies that make up the “sharing economy.” First, on Thursday the City of Ottawa announced a draft plan to regulate Uber. Under Ottawa’s plan, the city would add a new category of “transportation network company” to its current taxi licensing regime. Vehicles licensed under this new category would be subject to mandatory driver screening, vehicle inspections, and a minimum $5 million liability insurance coverage. Vehicles driver under this category would also be subject to a 10.5 cent/ per ride levy, to cover licensing costs. To help create a more level playing field, the City would significantly scale back the regulations that currently apply to taxis.

Second, the province released a report, in partnership with the MaRS Solutions Lab and the City of Toronto, which advocates for a variety of measures to regulate Uber and allow taxi companies to operate in a less strictly regulated environment. Specifically, the report recommends:

  • A new municipal licensing category called a “transportation network company” (similar to what Ottawa has proposed) and flexible licensing fees-as opposed to a flat annual fee
  • Mandatory driver screening, vehicle inspection, and insurance coverage for all ride-sharing companies
  • City-established training requirements, with training requirements left up to the companies themselves
  • Fixed rate for “street hails,” but deregulated fares for rides ordered through apps that allow consumers to see the price ahead of time
  • Lowered commercial insurance rates for taxi drivers, and potentially a discount for drivers who exhibit “good behaviour”
  • Provincial changes to allow for more ride-sharing insurance products
  • Better coordination between governments, taxi brokerages and ride-sharing companies to ensure wheelchair accessible services
  • Clarity about what the tax obligations are for ride-sharing companies, ensuring that HST is charged on all rides

You can read the full report here.

Finally, MPP Tim Hudak released what he referring to as “part 2” of his Opportunity in the Sharing Economy Act. Introduced as a private members bill, the new legislation would accommodate carpooling services (where money isn’t exchanged), cottage food entrepreneurs (who prepare food in their own homes and then sell them) and task service apps. The Bill hasn’t been posted online yet.

 

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