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“It’s a joke” that driver training has been delayed two years: Eisenberg

Approximately 40,000 Vehicles for Hire were licensed in Toronto while the driver training and testing program directed by Council failed to be implemented. Photo: Nabeel Syed  for Unsplash

Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has submitted a Notice of Motion regarding Vehicle for Hire driver training and testing to be discussed when Council returns October 1st and October 4th, 2021.

Wong-Tam’s Motion suggests that Toronto pause issuing licenses to Vehicle for Hire drivers until the driver training and testing program which is now two years overdue is actually implemented. Licensing and Standards staff blame the two year delay on COVID-19; during this period, approximately 40,000 drivers have been licensed in Toronto.

Taxi operator Lawrence Eisenberg is skeptical that the delay in launching the training program has anything to do with COVID: “When Uber arrived in Toronto, it was given a three-year window and required to comply with no by-laws,” points out Eisenberg. “So now, they’ve been given an additional two years. It’s a joke.”

Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

“City Council request the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to consider pausing the issuance of new vehicle-for-hire and private transportation company driver’s licences until such time as a driver training accreditation program is established, and applicants have demonstrated completion of a driver training course to the satisfaction of the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards as per By-Law 1517-2019,” Wong-Tam’s motion reads.

Road Warrior News/Taxi News submitted a Freedom of Information request in March, 2021 to obtain the number of drivers trained as part of the Council-mandated program, to be told that the program had not been developed. Prior to 2016, Toronto’s Licensing division ran a 17-day, in-person training program to license Taxi drivers. Centennial College currently runs a Taxi Driver Training Course which is a prerequisite for all Beck Taxi drivers. Centennial received no request from the City of Toronto for information on delivering a driver training course during the two year delay.

Councillor Wong-Tam’s Driver Training Motion for October 1st, 2021
Notice of Motion
MM36.14ACTION   Ward: All 
Back-to-School – Vehicle-for-Hire Driver Training – by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, seconded by Councillor Paul Ainslie
* Notice of this Motion has been given.
* This Motion is subject to referral to the General Government and Licensing Committee. A two-thirds vote is required to waive referral.
Recommendations
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, seconded by Councillor Paul Ainslie, recommends that:   1. City Council request the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to consider pausing the issuance of new vehicle-for-hire and private transportation company driver’s licences until such time as a driver training accreditation program is established, and applicants have demonstrated completion of a driver training course to the satisfaction of the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards as per By-Law 1517-2019.
 
2. City Council request the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with the City Solicitor, to include the following as part of the scheduled report back to the November 30, 2021 meeting of the General Government and Licensing Committee on the status of an accreditation program and any driver training courses required to licence new vehicle-for-hire and private transportation company drivers, including:   a.  a report with confidential attachment, if needed, on any legal issues that may exist with respect to the delayed implementation of the driver training program;
b.  the number of drivers who have been issued a licence since June 1, 2020;
c.  a plan for implementing the driver training program for current and new licensees; and
d.  changes to service levels, including number of passenger trips, drivers available, and any relevant information pertaining to licensing, reported by Vehicles-for-Hire and Private Transportation companies due to the pandemic between March 2020 to present.
Summary
On July 16, 2019, City Council adopted new mandatory training requirements for vehicle-for-hire drivers, such as taxicabs and limousines, and private transportation company drivers, such as Uber and Lyft. Under By-Law 1517-2019, the Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards is required to establish a driver training accreditation program and, from June 1, 2020, require all drivers to have completed an accredited driver training course.   As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the re-direction of Municipal Licensing and Standards resources to pandemic-related initiatives, the implementation of the driver training program has been delayed. This Motion requests an update on the implementation of the driver training program at the November 30, 2021 meeting of the General Government and Licensing Committee.   Currently, Municipal Licensing and Standards continues to issue licences to drivers who have not completed a driver training course. While Municipal Licensing and Standards continues to ensure that drivers hold a Class G or higher provincial driver’s license, pass driver screening and vehicle requirements, and carry $2,000,000 in mandatory insurance coverage, it is important that the driver training program be implemented as directed by City Council.
Background Information
Member Motion MM36.14
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2021/mm/bgrd/backgroundfile-171172.pdf)