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P.E.I. transportation minister says ridesharing background checks not his department's responsibility

Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Steven Myers speaks to MLA Corey Deagle in the Coles Building on Tuesday.
Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Steven Myers speaks to MLA Corey Deagle in the Coles Building on Tuesday. - Stu Neatby
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Transportation Minister Steven Myers told the legislature on Tuesday that ridesharing companies could have operated in P.E.I. at any time.

But questions about safety regulations, such as criminal background checks for drivers, were left open when Myers said the issue fell outside the jurisdiction of his department.

The minister was responding to questions from Green transportation critic Stephen Howard about the weekend announcement that the province would be offering a new class of license for rideshare operators or for taxi drivers who simply drove a car.

"There wasn't any legislative changes required to allow rideshare services to happen,” Myers told the legislature, "which means they could have operated on their own all along."

Previously, taxi operators were required to obtain a Class 4 licence, which was also required of ambulance drivers or individuals operating small passenger buses.

A new restricted Class 4 licence will not require testing using larger passenger buses.

“We didn't know if that was the best use of even our time from a highway safety perspective, to have people out there testing people who intended to use their Honda Civic to pick up the odd fare on a Friday night," Myers said in an interview.

"If you're looking for the regulatory body that would fall under that, it certainly isn't the Department of Transportation."

Concerns from women

In question period, Howard said women have raised concerns about the safety of passengers travelling with local transportation. He pointed to a 2017 review focused on Charlottetown’s taxi bylaws. 

“Could you table your department’s gender-based analysis on ride-sharing?” Howard asked Myers.

Myers responded that regulations around safety and criminal background checks fell outside the scope of his department.

"We don't, through the Highway Traffic Act or through the Highway Safety Department, regulate taxis and their safety. We don't regulate the taxi in Summerside, we don't regulate the taxi in Charlottetown," Myers said.

"If you're looking for the regulatory body that would fall under that, it certainly isn't the Department of Transportation."

In an interview, Myers said regulation of criminal background checks for drivers is the responsibility of the Department of Justice and Public Safety, not his department. He also said municipalities had their own regulations for taxi companies and that other regulations may be introduced in the future.

“There may be additional regulations that are needed or additional legislation that is needed to make it more successful here," Myers said.

"There is only one company that I know that's interested in coming to Prince Edward Island, that's RedRide. And they have said to me personally and publicly that they plan on doing records checks and making it safe for Islanders."

Twitter.com/stu_neatby


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