Uber Says it Should Be Recognized as ‘Distinct Service’

Taxi uber protest 20150825

Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, the general manager for Uber Quebec, has told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak today that the provincial government’s coming legislation should recognise that the company has a “distinct model” in comparison to the taxi industry. “The goal is to stay here and offer the same service we’ve been offering for two years,” Guillemette said, while adding that Uber will halt operations in the province if the new rules go too far.

“Clearly, what [Transport Minister Jacques Daoust] wants to do is to shut us down. The way he wants to regulate us is the same as the taxi industry is regulated,” Guillemette said.

On Daybreak, Guillemette said the majority of Uber drivers in Quebec — about 75 per cent — work less than 20 hours a week and therefore don’t make enough annually to register and collect tax. “There is a tax exemption if you make less than $30,000 and this is what we are doing,” he said. “If the government wants to change that, we are definitely open to collaborating on that.”

The legislation, which is due to be tabled May 12, is expected to include stricter licensing fees and force the company and its drivers hand over more tax revenue. Currently, Uber does not require drivers of its most popular service UberX, to have a tax number for GST and Quebec sales tax collection. Drivers for the service are treated as independent contractors and aren’t required to have a taxi licence.

Guillemette emphasized that UberX drivers shouldn’t be required to pay for a permit or it wouldn’t be worth it.

“When you drive five to 10 hours for a few weeks on the platform for a few weeks because you need to pay your bills, if we are asking you for example to pay $300, they won’t do it,” he said.

Uber is also expected to hold a “save Uber in Quebec” rally at noon today.

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