Uber subject of secret Ottawa study

Published: February 2, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



The city of Ottawa has carried out a secret behind closed doors comprehensive study of ride-sharing services such as Uber in the city, reports Torstar News. The study is described as “in-depth” and was conducted by high-ranking federal bureaucrats, a team comprised of five deputy ministers and a team of analysts.

The study was carried out to find the economical merits and demerits of ride-sharing companies (including the likes of Lyft and Airbnb) in Canada, while also exploring the impacts they have on consumers, rival industries, and local authorities.

The study was meant to remain secret and was completed in February 2015, just months after Uber first entered Canada and started a run of controversy that is only now starting to be unraveled. One of the key talking points of the report was that the team found regulating ride-sharing companies is a tough task and local municipalities will face numerous challenges in doing so.

As mentioned, the study was completed exactly a year ago, so fast forwarding the situation to 2016, it is easy to see that the conclusion was accurate. Uber, particularly, has proved extremely elusive to regulate and could in some ways be described as slippery. Only last week did Edmonton become the first city in Canada to legalize the ride-sharing market leader, and only last month did Aviva Canada become the first insurance provider to offer a ride-sharing specific policy.

“The fact that the sharing economy will create winners and losers is obvious,” the report reads. “What remains to be determined is what the overall impact will be on Canadian society and the degree to which proactive government responses can positively shape the outcomes of sharing economy.”

The report also seemingly predicted the insurance problems of Uber accurately. The company’s drivers (numbering 20,000 in Ontario alone) have been operating without sufficient auto insurance, and only now does Aviva’s policy solve the issue. That policy is not available yet though, and it is only exclusive to Ontario for the time being.

“For instance, in most cases, sharing-economy companies do not provide insurance, benefits, or training to their workers,” the report reads. “This shifts the risks onto individual sharing economy workers who remain unprotected and unsure of their rights and responsibilities.”