This is the training binder in use by Toronto’s Licensing Division for Taxi driver training when training was eliminated by a vote of Council in 2016. “It was hundreds of pages, and passenger safety was the first item listed in the mission statement,” Beck Taxi’s Kristine Hubbard explained to Councillors at the October 20 Licensing Committee meeting. Driver training will be debated at Toronto Council today, November 9th. Photo: Beck Taxi
People who want to make money driving vehicles for a living should be trained to do so safely, says Kristine Hubbard, and it was a mistake for Toronto to have cancelled driver training in 2016. Vehicle for hire driver training, Item GL.2611 Back-to-School/Vehicle for hire driver training is on the November 9, 2021 Council Agenda.
“The training requirement we’re talking about today was voted on by the council in 2019, in response to multiple fatalities caused by rideshare drivers who were licensed without training. We’re calling for this training to be implemented before any other drivers are licensed. This is what our community wants to see,” Hubbard, who is Operations Manager at Beck Taxi, told a video-conference meeting of the General License and Standards Committee on October 20, 2021.
“I am sitting in front of a binder with hundreds and hundreds of pages: City of Toronto training documents that were used to provide training to all vehicle for hire drivers in the city,” Hubbard said on October 20. “I obtained this binder on the day that training unfortunately was canceled in this city and dozens of students were literally dismissed from classrooms at the training center.”
Hubbard, has worked in the Taxi industry for almost 30 years, read to Councillors the Mission Statement at the front of the training binder:
“It says ‘Municipal Licensing and Standards Division’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in the city of Toronto, by ensuring public safety, community integrity, consumer protection and responsible business activities.’”
“This is training that been built and delivered over decades… I suppose it’s similar to the mission statement of the TTC, whose drivers undergo extensive training. But for some reason, the vehicle for hire industry (Taxis, Uber Lyft) seems to be the only one being moved by regulators in the wrong direction when it comes to keeping people safe in the city…
"I can't help but wonder what the purpose of the licensing body is, if not to keep people safe." --Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager, Beck Taxi
“I’ve worked in the ground transportation industry for close to 30 years. Every decision we make is weighed specifically against the impacts those decisions will have on the safety of our communities, drivers and Torontonians accessing our service.
“I can’t help but wonder what the purpose of the licensing body is, if not to keep people safe,” Hubbard noted, as she also pointed out that the drivers who are accessing the training pay the full cost of the training, which is not subsidized by taxpayers:
“You know, training comes at no cost to taxpayers, it only comes with the benefits associated with people who are knowledgeable and providing professional service to members of our disabled community, our seniors, our children, families…the only cost in requiring training lays in the hands of those who want to profit from the work, this comes at no cost to the city.
“But there is a huge cost to the city for not requiring this training. It results in the degradation of safety for our communities on our streets, injury, death, property damage insurance claims…the list goes on.
“All of these risks are reduced with training, and that was the mandate or is the mandate of this branch of government. Using our streets whether you are a pedestrian or cyclist or vehicle driver – every person is a vulnerable person, but the ones behind the wheel have the greatest responsibility.
“We have tons of steel being operated on busy streets, approaching curbside, responding to communication devices, attending to strangers in the backseat, assisting with mobility devices, navigating traffic and congestion.
“That is the nightmare we’re living in this city right now. But drivers are making money doing those things, and they should be trained.
“Right now, staff are requiring training and refresher training for wheelchair accessible services when this service well, extremely important, represents only a small fraction under 2 per cent of the vehicle for hire service being offered, while more than 100,000 vehicle for hire drivers have been allowed to hit our streets with zero training.
“What we know in our business is that people who require extra car – seniors, children, and members of the disabled community – these people actually represent probably 50 per cent of the service being provided across the board, whether you’re talking about Uber Lyft taxi limo
“I just don’t understand why their safety isn’t as important as the safety of people who use wheelchairs.”
Hubbard pointed out that individuals given permission by the city to make money driving passengers in their vehicles bear a very special responsibility:
“Anyone in the backseat of a vehicle being driven by a stranger is vulnerable. Anyone providing the service and care that is expected of a professional driver should be aware, and appropriately trained.
“This is what people believe in our city. Torontonians believe that this is attached to the permission that has been granted to someone allowed to cruise our streets, and right now we’re facing a crisis. The training requirement we’re talking about today was voted on by the council in 2019, in response to multiple fatalities caused by rideshare drivers who were licensed without training. We’re calling for this training to be implemented before any other drivers are licensed. This is what our community wants to see.”
The debate will be broadcast live on the web at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mFTyVxiy7w
MLS Mission Statement (as published in its 2015 Training Binder) "Municipal Licensing and Standards Division’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in the city of Toronto by ensuring public safety, community integrity, consumer protection and responsible business activities."