There is no doubt that Uber divides opinion in Ontario and Canada as a whole. However, despite plenty of bad publicity and plenty of unclear practices Uber is slowly winning its battle against governments and winning consumers over. To end 2015 the company is attempting something of a charm offensive and its general manager in Canada spoke to CTV News about the company.
Ian Black, General Manager of Uber Canada, spoke to CTV News Channel and was forthcoming about the controversies that have followed the company, but also discussed what Uber and its UberX service can bring to Canadians.
The UberX service allows anyone with a relatively new vehicle to sign up for the company and work as a quasi-taxi driver, often offering prices that are better than standard taxi services. Uber’s model of upfront payment has been praised, but the company has courted controversy because it is operating in Canada without regulation, while drivers are often working without legitimate auto insurance coverage.
There have been taxi driver led protests in numerous Canadian cities, while authorities in the country’s provinces have tried and failed to close the UberX service down. Despite this, there is a changing tide and government is slowly starting to accept Uber with the promise of an economic boost from the company enticing authorities. Toronto recently became the first city in Canada to vote on regulating the UberX service, although those regulations will not be implemented until 2016.
Black said “ride-sharing is a very different business model and very different regulatory consideration than the taxi industry.”
“Most cities around the world who have regulated this, and there are about 60 … have chosen to create new regulatory framework,” he said.
“And that's what was suggested by Toronto city staff. It's also been suggested by the City of Edmonton, the City of Calgary, so really Canadian cities around the country are looking for new regulatory frameworks."
The executive also talked up the job creation that Uber brings, saying the company has created some 20,000 new jobs in Canada, although he readily admits that many drivers are working 10 hours or less per week.
"There's over a half a million Canadians now who rely on Uber on a regular basis for their ride,” Black said. “I think the vast majority of people who use our service … really see the innovations that we're bringing as a good thing.”