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 owner-operators.
- 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.
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