The Ottawa Taxi court proceedings resume again today for the third week. Metro Taxi’s Marc Andre Way is testifying again; to date, he is the only person who has been questioned on the stand. Representatives of the City of Ottawa, against whom the suit has been filed, have not yet been questioned.
The focus of today’s questioning at the outset has been Accessible services. Training for Accessible drivers are not a revenue stream but operate on a cost-recovery basis, Way says.
“It is not a profit centre,” Way replied in answer to a question. “We have to hire trainers, provide materials and a classroom…it operates on a cost-recovery basis.”
Seven weeks of court time as been alloted to this hearing, which was certified in 2018. Members of Ottawa’s taxi industry launched the $215 million class-action lawsuit in April 2016, alleging the city did not protect drivers and the industry when ride-sharing services hit city streets. The suit also claims the city discriminated against minority taxi plate holders by failing to enforce its own bylaw and changing the bylaw to allow private transportation companies.
A key element of this trial is the allegation that the City of Ottawa “in failing to enforce its By-law and in changing the By-law, the City discriminated on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, ethnic or national origin, religion or creed, language, place of origin, or citizenship, contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code,” according to the class action.
The lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Metro Taxi Ltd., co-owner Marc Andre Way and Iskhak Mail, with the lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of taxi plate owners and brokers.