Ottawa Agrees to Regulate PTCs like Uber

Published: April 13, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Canada continued to ease its stance on ride-sharing giant Uber on Wednesday, with the City of Ottawa confirming that it will authorize a new bylaw to adopt private transportation companies (PTCs) in Canada’s capital. Regulations were first drawn up late last month, and now Ottawa has become the third Canadian jurisdiction to move to legalize and regulate Uber.

Ottawa becomes the first city in Ontario to adopt ride-sharing firms, with Toronto set to mirror the cities progress very closely when it decides whether to regulate Uber.

Edmonton arguably set the path to regulating Uber when the city changed its bylaw to adopt the company and other PTCs in January. Uber is not legal in the city yet as it awaits auto insurance clarification from Alberta this summer, but it was the first time the company had agreed with proposed regulations.

Calgary was less successful. The city drew up similar laws to Edmonton, but Uber was unimpressed and decided to leave the market entirely. Ottawa has also looked closely at Edmonton in its bylaw draft, but it remains uncertain whether Uber and other PTCs will agree to the stipulations.

“Under the new bylaw, drivers working for Uber or any other vehicle for hire will have to undergo a police record check and a check of their personal driving record. Only vehicles younger than 10 years old can be used as a vehicle for hire, while all such vehicles need a minimum auto insurance liability of $5 million, which is interestingly the amount Uber covers it drivers for.

Uber is classed as a private cab under the new bylaw and as such can only pick up passengers after pre-arranging through an app, and not by being hailed on the street. No cash payments will be allowed and Uber/drivers must pay a 10.5 cents charge for each fare, which they will also pay an annual license fee, the amount of which has not been revealed.”

Ottawa’s changes will come into effect on September 30, 2016, and states that any ride-sharing company wanting to operate within the city must take a license that is modelled off the license taxi brokers must acquire. In a press release, the council said the company must then give the city information about its drivers and vehicles, such as vehicle inspections, driver background checks, and insurance confirmation.

In Ottawa, city council also adopted a “lighter regulatory framework for the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate with new service offerings,” the city said.

    Allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app;

    Eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee;

    Reducing the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96);

    Waiving the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0);

    Eliminating interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles;

    Increasing maximum vehicle age from eight to 10 years;

    Allowing taxi companies to determine their own industry-specific customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver course at Algonquin College;

    Retaining taxis’ exclusive ability to accept “street hails,” together with exclusive use of taxi stands and lanes’

    Retaining exclusive Para Transpo contract, worth about $9 million annually; and

    ‎Allowing for nominal cancellation fees and surcharges for premium vehicle options when rides are booked through an app.

Related: Uber launches campaign to gather public support ahead of Ottawa city vote

The City of Ottawa will continue to enforce the existing bylaw until the new regulations come into effect.

“Today’s decision moves our transportation system in the right direction by challenging the status quo and opening up the market to competition,” said Mayor Jim Watson in the release. “Ottawa should be a place where people have access to safe, competitive, affordable, and effective transportation options.”