Taxi Drivers Should Be Declared "Workers" in Ontario

Drivers tell Ontario they should be included in Health and Safety Act

TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - Ontario Taxi Drivers from both Hamilton and Toronto presented proposals today to the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Panel. Jaswinder Bedi of the Ontario Taxiworkers Union called on the Ontario Government to place taxi drivers as workers covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He reminded the Panel that Taxi Drivers in Ontario are exposed to dangerous conditions, working alone with cash and exposed to robbery and assaults.

Toronto Taxi Drivers representatives from the Itaxiworkers Association reinforced that message as well as reminding the Panel that over 80% of current drivers are from racialized groups and are exposed to racial harassment and attacks. Owen Leach, a spokesperson for the Itaxiworkers explained that recently a friend and fellow taxi driver was assaulted and robbed.

Peter Leibovitch, Executive Director of Itaxiworkers, reminded the panel that taxi drivers are not covered by WSIB, don't have access to health benefits and are not covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Taxi drivers work in precarious and vulnerable conditions with no legislative protection.

Some of the proposals presented to the panel include:

    1)  Cover taxi drivers under the occupational health and safety act;
    2)  Allow drivers the right to refuse unsafe work;
    3)  Make pre-payment of fares mandatory after dark;
    4)  Apply changes to the law province-wide so all drivers have the same
        rules and competitive disadvantages are eliminated;
    5)  Make safety equipment the responsibility of the brokers, rather than
        the individual driver.

The Drivers reminded the panel that the Ontario government and municipalities spend hundreds of thousand of dollars each year on the taxi industry contracting them to carry WSIB patients, ODSP clients and school children for the education boards. Taxis should be inspected regularly, and drivers should be trained taxi drivers. Too often brokers use illegal cabs and drivers who don't hold licences to do these trips. We entrust our elderly, our sick and our children to these conditions and the government has a responsibility to guarantee their safety as well as making sure that drivers are not exposed to exploitation by working underground.

SOURCE iTaxiworkers Association

For further information: For further information: Jaswinder Bedi, 905-869-7259 (Ontario Taxiworkers Union); Peter Leibovitch, 416-278-4123 (Itaxiworkers Association)

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