Toronto taxi driver association release reform proposals to benefit
drivers and public
TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Hundreds of honking taxicabs surrounded
Toronto City Hall today to express their frustration at the lack of
progress towards taxi industry reform first announced by the City over
10 months ago.
The thousand member strong iTaxiworkers Association also made their
proposals for reform public at a press conference. Association
President Sajid Mughal said, "as key stakeholders in the taxi industry,
drivers have three primary concerns: health and safety, the end of
discriminatory two-tier licensing and the treatment of taxis as public
transit." Transportation expert and former City Councillor Adam
Giambrone and prominent Human Rights lawyer Peter Rosenthal were also
on hand to support the drivers' recommendations.
It is not widely known that taxi drivers are the most likely of all
professions in Canada to be murdered on the job. It is also a shock to
learn the average hourly wage for a Toronto taxi driver is just $4.78.
Frustrated that the consultation process has been delayed 10 months, the
iTaxiworkers Association organized a show of strength and released
their proposals to push the City toward reform. In support of their
proposals, the Association released a comprehensive report outlining a
roadmap for reform. The fundamental argument made by the drivers is
that when taxi drivers are economically, physically and psychologically
secure the industry as a whole benefits. "The link between working
conditions and customer service is strong. Making the industry better
for drivers will make it better for passengers, which will benefit the
city at large," commented Mughal.
The top five recommendations are:
A task force including health practitioners, police and taxi drivers be
established to address drivers' health and safety as the level of risk
of attack and/or injury for taxi drivers is among the highest of any
profession in Canada.
Only one type of owner's license (plate) for the taxi industry.
Currently there are three different types of taxi plates -
"Ambassador," "W" and "Standard". The discrimination inherent in these
different classes of plate should be ended and all existing licenses
should be converted to one new standard plate held by taxicab
The City should charge $5,000 for conversion of all 1,400 Ambassador and
W plates. These funds can be set aside by the City to establish a
benefit fund to provide health and dental insurance, as well as pension
protection for drivers and their families. This should include
automatic enrolment for shift drivers and the option for new standard
plate owner-operators to buy-in. Most taxi drivers currently have no access to CPP, EI, WSIB or any
benefit plans, in fact most drivers have no safety net at all.
The City should work with taxi dispatch companies, plate owners, and
drivers to settle on a single negotiated rate per shift for the rental
of taxicabs by drivers. This would prevent drivers from being taken
advantage of while guaranteeing a fair amount of compensation for both
plate owners and drivers.
The City of Toronto should recognize that taxicabs are an important
component of public transportation and, as such, they should be
factored into future transit and transportation planning. In
combination with mass transit, commuters often use taxis to complete
portions of their daily trips. This recommendation will decrease
gridlock, reduce pollution, provide for a less expensive taxi service
for the public and keep more income in the driver's pockets.
The iTaxiworkers Association is the latest installment in the long
history of taxi drivers in the City of Toronto collectively advocating
for justice and dignity in their profession. The iTaxiworkers brings
together frontline taxi drivers with the aim to unite the many voices
to reform the taxi industry so that drivers can make a decent living
and come home safely to their families at the end of a shift. Support
for the iTaxiworkers Association has grown steadily as members and
drivers experience the value of the organization. Today, the
iTaxiworkers is on track to represent close to 1,000 taxi drivers in
Toronto and continues to provide legal defense, political advocacy and
organize Toronto taxi drivers for justice and reform. Run by and for
taxi drivers, support for the iTaxiworkers continues to grow as taxi
drivers show their resolve to be organized and united in their quest
for respect, equality, and fairness.
SOURCE iTAXIWORKERS Association
For further information:
Jacob Leibovitch, Executive Director