Questioning Transportation Minister on ride-hailing decision

Mar 29, 2019 | 41-4, Blog, Governance, Question Period, Video | 0 comments

After working on the all-Party Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations for the past several months our recommendations were finally made public this week.

After having the report for less than an hour Transportation Minister Claire Travena announced that the BC NDP is going to require ride-hailing drivers to obtain a Class 4 drivers license.

Essentially, our work was disregarded and the Minister was unmoved by our work.

I asked her in Question Period if there was ever any point to the Committee work in the first place?


A. Olsen:

Over the past eight months, I’ve worked closely with eight of my colleagues from this House. We spent an incredible amount of time together on a committee to hear witnesses and to debate amongst ourselves the recommendations that we brought forward earlier this week. They’re strong recommendations. They could bring ride-hailing to British Columbia. They show that a committee system where politicians cooperate can actually work, but then the minister, after less than 45 minutes, categorically dismissed the recommendations that were put forward on licensing.

As the member from Surrey South put it on social media, we had 45 minutes of hope on ride-hailing, and then the minister spoke. This is not the action of someone who has taken the time to carefully consider the constructed recommendations, informed by expert testimony — a task that we were given as a committee. It’s not the action of someone who is open to hearing a discussion about the best way to achieve a safe regime. The 45 minutes is not enough time to put together the communications notes on a decision that was made well in advance.

I worked with the minister on this important bill. So I’m asking the Minister of Transportation: was there any point to the work that our committee did on hearing from experts on how to ensure safety and on what licensing made sense? Or had she made her decision before the committee had even started meeting?

Hon. C. Trevena:

I’d like to thank the member for his question. I’d also like to thank the member for his hard work on this file. He has been a leader on this. There’s no question.

When we brought legislation to this House — which the opposition, when they were in government, failed to do — we were able to work with the Third Party to make sure that there’s going to be flexibility as we bring app-based ride-hailing into this province. I thank the member for the amendment that he brought to the floor of the House for that legislation. It will help.

The committee had a very important role to play. I followed the hearings closely. There’s no question. I also heard from hundreds of British Columbians and stakeholders throughout the province. As the member knows, the report indicates there were a number of experts who spoke to the committee and advocated for the class 4 licence. We were listening to this as the committee was having its hearings. I think everyone knows that we have Hansard. We can follow the committee as it is having its hearings.

Among them, there was a number of communities that said they wanted to keep the class 4 licence. The seniors advocate wanted to keep class 4 licence. The Vancouver police department wanted to keep the class 4 licence. If I might just quote, the Vancouver police department said: “I think you’re inviting people to be on the road more, which is what we’re doing by allowing them to be a TNS driver. We do need to ensure that the people that do that are the best drivers, people with a limited number of violations, people who have gone the extra step to take the extra road test so we can be sure that they are a good driver.”

Safety remains paramount to this government. We are bringing app-based ride-hailing to B.C. this year.

Mr. Speaker:

Member for Saanich North and the Islands on a supplemental.

A. Olsen:

It’s the job of that committee to hear the testimony and to provide feedback and recommendations based on that, to have that discussion, to analyze that work. But this is actually not a debate about safety. Every member of this House is committed to ensuring a safe regime is in place that ride-hailing must operate within.

What concerns me is that what the minister is proposing may very well be a structural barrier that will prevent ride-hailing from coming to British Columbia. The committee has heard again and again that we can achieve high safety standards in British Columbia, the high safety standards British Columbians demand, without using a class 4 licence. A class 4 licence is just one tool.

Instead we should establish limits on the vehicles that can be used. We could require drivers to have perfect driving records. We could enforce limits on the age of drivers. We could do all of these things that set a clear set of standards that ensures only drivers that have no history or a likelihood of accidents can be ride-hailing drivers. There are a lot of options. So let’s do away with the notion that this has anything to do with safety.

I want a safe regime as much as the minister. I don’t think that that has to come at the cost of ride-hailing to British Columbia.

My question is for the Minister of Transportation. There is nothing in a class 4 licence that can’t be accomplished through other means. Why is the door closed on this decision? Why is the only pathway for the minister one that may present an unsurpassable barrier for ride-hailing companies in British Columbia?

Hon. C. Trevena:

We are not alone in having a class 4 licence for app-based ride-hailing. We see it work in Alberta. We see it in New York City. We see it in Chicago. It has a higher level. Ontario is looking at a higher level after accidents. Safety has to be No. 1.

Class 4 allows people to have an extra driving test. It allows medical checks to make sure that you are physically able to drive and there are no risks. It makes sure that you have the mechanical availability. It adds that extra level of safety.

We have to remember that it’s the drivers who want to be safe, the passengers who want to be safe and every other road user who wants to be safe. If somebody is earning their income by driving a vehicle, carrying passengers, we want to make sure that we have a safe regime.

I’ve got to ask everyone in this House.


Mr. Speaker:


Hon. C. Trevena:

I have to ask everyone in this House. Would you allow your 15-year-old daughter to go in a car where you did not trust that driver to be safe? We’ve got to make sure safety is paramount, and that’s why we’re sticking with a class 4.

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