Regina city council votes to bring in background checks for Uber drivers

·2 min read
The City of Regina conducted a review of ride-hailing operations and will present it to city council on Wednesday.  (Julia Page/CBC - image credit)
The City of Regina conducted a review of ride-hailing operations and will present it to city council on Wednesday. (Julia Page/CBC - image credit)

Regina city council will now require ride-hailing drivers to have yearly criminal record and vulnerable sector checks.

The change comes after hearing from Regina's Capital Cabs and a representative from Uber on a review of ride-hailing in the city.

In 2019, ride-hailing vehicles took up about 15 per cent of the transportation-for-hire business in Regina, with taxis taking up the other 85 per cent. In 2020, taxis took 79 per cent of the sharing in trips and ride-hailing took 21 per cent, according to administration.

Council voted unanimously to require criminal record and vulnerable sector checks before drivers can start, then again on a yearly basis. Council also talked about requiring cameras in ride-hailing vehicles, but stopped short of voting on it and instead will review ride-hailing again in two years.

Glen Sali, owner of Capital Cabs, spoke to council. He said he wanted a more level playing field, as taxi drivers are required to have cameras. Sali said GPS on an app cannot replace the security of a camera.

"It's safety not just for the driver but also for the customer," Sali said. "So we need to have safety for both to eliminate any issues."

The Regina Police Service received no complaints from the public about Uber drivers since their operations started in Regina, according to city administration.
The Regina Police Service received no complaints from the public about Uber drivers since their operations started in Regina, according to city administration.

Yanique Williams, the public policy manager for Western Canada at Uber, spoke to council as well. She said cameras would be an issue in ride-hailing vehicles as many vehicles are used for personal use and professional use. While taxis are solely used for professional uses.

Williams said ride-hailing and taxis need to be treated differently because they are different industries. She said cameras should be required in taxis as they operate on street hails and accept cash but that the app and issue reporting in the app keeps Uber passengers safe.

$250,000 Efficiency review program approved by council

City council also approved an efficiency review program, with its first phase expected to cost $250,000.

The review will look at six to eight city services and make recommendations for how to improve or adapt them. Phase one will hire an independent consultant to review the services. They will report on an ongoing basis to city council.

"I think that COVID-19 has provided us the opportunity to transform in some respects," Mayor Sandra Masters said during an executive committee meeting.

The final report for Phase 1 is anticipated to come before council at the end of 2021.

Council will also discuss allowing the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Corporation to increase its debt financing to $60 million for a plant renewal project.

The plant provides treated water to Regina and Moose Jaw. The plant board said this renewal is needed for the aging facility.