BC’s new strict ride-sharing laws could hamper Uber drivers

Published: November 23, 2018



British Columbia’s path to ride-sharing adoption remains blocked despite the government passing legislation to allow companies like Uber to operate in the province. Yesterday, we reported on the insurance barriers still in place, which the IBC believes can be solved by private insurers. However, there is another issue facing ride-sharing adoption in B.C.

Namely, some industry experts believe the regulations created by the government are too restrictive. Under B.C.’s ride-sharing legislation, drivers working for companies like Uber will need to have a Class 4 license, which can only be received once passing a criminal record check and medical fitness check (which would then be repeated every five years).

The provincial government calls the regulations fair, but Uber drivers may see it differently. The ride-sharing market has been largely built on a pick-up-and-drive model where many operators simply work for Uber for spare money. In other words, the lack of red tape was what made Uber such as appealing prospect for many.

With the need to obtain a Class 4 license, ride-sharing in B.C. may be too complicated for many people to want to bother. Perhaps that is what the government wants as it has put a cap on the number of ride-sharing cars that can be on the road.

Speaking to CBC News, transport consultant Victor Ngo points out that Class 4 license holders must also purchase special insurance policies. In fact, the same type of policy currently needed by traditional taxi drivers. Interestingly, that industry has often argued Uber has had an easy ride to regulation in Canada, with drivers avoiding the various stipulations and costs cabbies must follow.

“One of the benefits of ride-hailing is it can attract different types of people, people who want to work a quick shift to make a few extra bucks, or want to be more full time. There is range of flexibility on what kind of positions they can take. With Class 4, it reduces that flexibility,” Ngo explained to CBC News.

Ahead of the finalization of the B.C. ride-sharing legislation on Monday, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) argued private insurance companies could bring competition and deal with Uber drivers in the province. However, the public monopoly auto insurer, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) says it is prepared to insure ride-share drivers.

“ICBC will be ready to deliver the blanket insurance certificate, that we anticipate will be usage-based, when the various detailed amended regulations are in place,” the insurer said in a statement.