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“Outrageous” that accused sex offender announced as Newfoundland’s first rideshare operator: Wall

Minister congratulates accused in government press release

Joedy Wall was outraged to hear media reports that Service NL had licensed a ride sharing service owned by an accused sexual offender.

Newfoundland’s Liberal government beat a hasty retreat on its January 19th announcement of legalized ridesharing when it realized the first licensed service provider has been accused of multiple sexual assaults.

Opposition member Joedy Wall, PC Shadow Minister for Digital Government and Service NL, was shocked to hear media reports that Service NL had licensed a ride sharing service owned by an accused sexual offender.

Wall was responding to a VOCM news article that detailed the first licensed ride sharing service was approved and licensed by the province, despite the owner facing serious sexual assault charges against young people.

“This is outrageous. How can an accused sexual offender get a ride sharing licence? Where is the Liberal Government due diligence that allowed this to happen? The Minister is always quick to be available for positive photo ops, where is she now to explain this fiasco?” Wall stated in a press release on January 23rd.

“The Ride-Sharing Industry has not even arrived yet in NL and we have controversy and serious public safety issues. These are the very concerns we raised when the legislation went through the House of Assembly. Can anyone get a ride sharing license? How about the drivers? Will the Liberals ensure they have a criminal records check and venerable sector check to protect passengers?”

The province’s January 19th press release reads, “The Provincial Government is pleased to announce that the first ride-sharing licence in Newfoundland and Labrador has been issued to Redsea Riding.

“Locally owned and operated by Yosief Tesfamicael, Redsea Riding currently employs 10 drivers and is actively recruiting more. The ride-sharing company is aiming to be open for business in the coming months. The company will begin by offering its services in the St. John’s metro area.”

Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service NL was quoted saying “I am pleased to see the first ride-sharing licence issued to Redsea Riding and congratulate Yosief on this incredible accomplishment. Our team have worked hard to ensure the Regulations are fair, providing a clear and simple set of rules for ride-share operators. I encourage anyone who may be interested to visit our website for more information.”

Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service NL
Photo: Facebook

“This Minister took years to get helmet legislation passed, and 5 years for speed camera legislation which is still not done,” Wall notes. ‘Now we have an accused sexual offender being congratulated by the Liberal Government for opening a ride sharing service! The Minister needs to explain this latest fiasco!”

Wall noted that the Minister had been scheduled to speak to the media at a press conference which was abruptly cancelled without explanation.

According to a report by CP, forty-three year-old Yosief Tesfamicael operates RedSea Riding. He is facing five counts against minors, including sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, unlawfully making sexually explicit material available to a child and exposing his genitals.

Uber has also indicated it plans to apply for a ridesharing license in Newfoundland.

In October 2023, the government first announced the introduction of a provincial approach to ride-sharing. A provincial approach is necessary because automobile insurance is regulated by the province, and transporting passengers for compensation requires a specific form of insurance not covered by personal policies.

On December 21, 2023, the province published its revised definition of a “public vehicle” in its Auto Insurance Regulations to include rideshare vehicles:

“Paragraph 2(g) of the Automobile Insurance Regulations, 2019 is repealed and the following substituted:

(g) “public vehicle” means

(i) an automobile used primarily to provide transportation services to the public and includes ambulances, daily rental vehicles, funeral hearses, private buses, public school buses and taxis and

(ii) an automobile used for ride-sharing service;

Read the provincial announcement January 19th

Provincial Government Issues First Ride-sharing Licence to Redsea Riding

January 19, 2024

The Provincial Government is pleased to announce that the first ride-sharing licence in Newfoundland and Labrador has been issued to Redsea Riding.

Locally owned and operated by Yosief Tesfamicael, Redsea Riding currently employs 10 drivers and is actively recruiting more. The ride-sharing company is aiming to be open for business in the coming months. The company will begin by offering its services in the St. John’s metro area, including St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, Torbay, Pouch Cove, Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s and Flatrock.

The Honourable Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service NL, will be available to the media at 12:00 p.m. today (Friday, January 19.) The availability will take place in front of the House of Assembly, East Block, Confederation Building.

In October 2023, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador first announced the introduction of a provincial approach to ride-sharing. Amendments were brought forth in the House of Assembly and shortly after, on December 21, 2023, the Regulations and the amended Highway Traffic Act were published in the Newfoundland and Labrador Gazette.

Applications to operate a ride-sharing service in the province are available online and currently being accepted by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

Quotes
“I am pleased to see the first ride-sharing licence issued to Redsea Riding and congratulate Yosief on this incredible accomplishment. Our team have worked hard to ensure the Regulations are fair, providing a clear and simple set of rules for ride-share operators. I encourage anyone who may be interested to visit our website for more information.”
Honourable Sarah Stoodley
Minister of Digital Government and Service NL

“Thank you to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, especially Minister Stoodley, for your guidance and support throughout the application process. I am excited to be the first operator in the province and am committed to ensuring reliable and valuable service to our customers.”
Yosief Tesfamicael
CEO-Co-Founder, Redsea Riding

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