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“It has now been made very clear to me that perhaps we do have a challenge within MLS:” Wong-Tam

Learning there was a lengthy, detailed report from Licensing staff the night before Toronto Council was scheduled to meet on December 15th came as an unpleasant surprise to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

Even more disturbing, Wong-Tam said, was realizing that Licensing Committee Chair Paul Ainslie had not received the report at all.

Responding to a question from Taxi News on why the supplementary report was not tabled until hours before Council was to debate it, Wong-Tam noted “Receiving it the night before Council was meeting on Wednesday was a big surprise. Especially since there was nothing, nothing, no indication from staff that it was coming.”

“You know, we have had issues with COVID, and things have been delayed, unfortunately,” Councillor Ainslie said. “But staff are certainly going to have to answer, on the floor of council and in public, for why they dropped a supplementary report the day before Council.”

Speaking at a December 16th press conference hosted online by RideFairTO, Wong-Tam went on to note: “I have been hearing for years from members of the Taxi industry that they felt that there was a bias within MLS since it appeared that staff was doing everything they could to support Uber through the deregulation efforts; and that staff were extremely friendly with the requests of the Uber platforms and Lyft platforms.

“I’ve always taken that with it with a grain of salt, to be quite honest. But given what I’ve now seen, which is the two years of delayed implementation (of driver training) in direct contradiction to what counsel had ordered.

“Then, coming back with an RFP literally the day before the committee meeting – and only then because counsel Ainsley and I were asking what happened to that training – then to see that supplementary report drop… certainly it has now been made very clear to me that perhaps we do have a challenge within MLS.

“I’m very keen to find out how can we address it and how can we fix it, because Council has given direction on two occasions and on two occasions, we have now seen staff not just ignore the direction but simply reverse the direction on their own at their discretion, which is a problem.”

The issue of driver training for vehicle for hire drivers has been moved from December 15th, to December 16th, and now to December 17th.

Guest speaker at the press conference was Cheryl Hawkes, mother of the late Nicholas Cameron. Cameron died in an accident on the Gardiner Expressway in an Uber vehicle with an untrained driver in 2018.

Commenting during the online press conference, Hawkes requested media to look into
whether the Mayor’s office was helping to thwart driver training.

“I'm very keen to find out how can we address it 

and how can we fix it, because Council has given direction on two occasions and on two occasions, 

we have now seen staff not just ignore the direction 

but simply reverse the direction on their own at their discretion, which is a problem.” 

--Kristyn Wong-Tam