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Two year delay in driver training program blamed on COVID while 40,000 new drivers hit Toronto streets

Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

During the more than two years that have elapsed since Toronto Council voted to implement a vehicle-for-hire driver training program, the City has issued 1276 Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Requests for Information (RFIs) for other, unrelated contracts. 

However, Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Division has not managed to complete the RFP process in search of the private sector firm needed to run the new training program for drivers of vehicles for hire.  

“The driver training program was to take effect June 1st 2020 for new drivers and proof of training to be provided to MLS by the end of 2020 for existing drivers,” reads the Freedom of Information document obtained by Taxi News on April 9th, 2021.

“Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, driver training for the vehicle-for-hire industry remains delayed.”

City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam told CTV news, “I do not believe COVID-19 is a legitimate reason, largely because this Council Direction came back in 2019. We know that it was very important to City Council. We did say to City Staff ‘Get this done.’”

Beck Taxi’s Kristine Hubbard told Newstalk 1010: “In 2019, after the horrific accident in which Nick Cameron died, Council voted to bring the training back by the first quarter of 2020. Staff did not get this done, despite the fact that they found time to license 40,000 ride share drivers and put them on the street – without training.”

According to MLS staff, “The City is currently working to advance the introduction of a mandatory driver training accreditation program for all vehicle-for-hire drivers, as directed by Toronto City Council in 2019.

“At the beginning of 2020, staff issued a procurement call for third-party training providers and began to assess and review submissions. This work was put on hold as a result of the pandemic and the need to redirect resources to urgent COVID-19 efforts, such as enforcement and the development of online services.  Staff have continued to advance work on the training and other Vehicle-for-Hire bylaw amendments as resources and capacity have allowed. A report on this work will be presented to the General Government and Licensing Committee in November.”

 

“I do not believe COVID-19 is a legitimate reason, largely because this Council Direction came back in 2019. We know that it was very important to City Council. We did say to City Staff ‘Get this done.’”

Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
What did Toronto Council direct staff to do on July 16, 2019?

Item # GL6.31

Administration, Audit Powers, and Revocation Process of Training Programs

13. Add a provision to require existing private transportation company and vehicle-for-hire driver licence holders to provide proof of the successful completion of a mandatory training program, that is approved by the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, by the fourth quarter of 2020; the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards should give consideration to a grandfathering program for taxi and limousine owners and drivers for members, if they were licensed as a vehicle for hire driver (or previously as a taxi or limousine driver) as of May 30, 2016 and have completed a taxi or limousine training course satisfactory to the Executive Director.

14.  Add a provision to allow the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to establish the mandatory components and criteria for the accreditation of training programs for all drivers licensed under this chapter.

15.  Add a provision to state that the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards shall publish the mandatory components of training programs, criteria to accredit training programs, and a list of approved training programs.

16.  Add a provision that each applicant for the certification of a training program shall provide, at minimum, the following information to the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards:

a.  full name of individual or business;

b.  mailing address;

c.  contact information, including phone number and e-mail address;


d.  the syllabus of the proposed training content; and

e.  any other information as requested by the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards.

17. Add a provision to require private transportation company and vehicle-for-hire drivers to successfully complete a third-party training program, including a final evaluation test, that satisfactorily meets the criteria established by, and is approved by, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards; the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards should give consideration to programs with an in car and/or class component, a defensive driving training component and accessibility, diversity and sensitivity training.

18.  Add a provision that the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards has the authority to audit approved training programs and request information related to the audit, as required.

19.  Add a provision that, pursuant to the audit and investigation process, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards has the authority to revoke the accreditation of training programs if:

a.  Municipal Licensing and Standards has reasonable grounds to believe that the training program no longer meets the requirements for inclusion on the approved list, in accordance with the mandatory components established by the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards;

b.  Municipal Licensing and Standards has reasonable grounds to believe that the training program is not being delivered or its officers, directors, or employees have not acted in accordance with the intent of the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 546, Licensing of Vehicles-for-Hire, or if incomplete or inaccurate information has been provided; or

c.  Municipal Licensing and Standards has reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct of the training program or its officers, directors, or employees has resulted, or will result, in a breach of the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 546, Licensing of Vehicles-for-Hire, or any other law.

20.  Add a provision that vehicle-for-hire or private transportation company drivers who obtained a licence on the basis of their membership in a training program that is then removed from the City’s approved list must provide proof of the successful completion of another approved training program at their licence renewal, if required by the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards.

21.  Add a provision that vehicle-for-hire or private transportation company drivers who do not submit proof of the successful completion of another approved training program at their licence renewal will be deemed to no longer meet the licensing requirements under the By-law and the licence renewal application will be incomplete until proof of training is submitted.