Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Quebec taxi drivers protest against new legislation to deregulate the industry, on Friday, April 5, 2019 in Montreal, Que.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Hundreds of taxis converged on downtown Montreal today, blocking major arteries to protest the government’s deregulation of their industry.

They say proposed reforms to make room for ride-hailing services will drive many of them into bankruptcy.

The drivers from Montreal and other parts of Quebec gathered in front of Transport Department offices, parking their cabs in the middle of the street for hours. Some set protest signs on fire.

Abdallah Homsy, an industry spokesman who travelled to Montreal from Quebec City Friday, said attempts to discuss the proposed changes with the office of Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel have been fruitless.

The drivers say the planned elimination of taxi permits, which at one point sold for as much as $200,000 each, will lead to financial ruin for many of them. The government has said it will pay $500 million in compensation, but the drivers say that would not cover their losses.

Premier Francois Legault said the province’s taxi system needs to evolve. He said the compensation offered amounts to roughly $70,000 per permit, which is more than some drivers paid and less than others.

“That is why we would like to sit down with representatives of the drivers and permit-holders to negotiate an agreement so no driver is left in a situation, for example, of bankruptcy,” Legault told reporters in Repentigny, Que.

Homsy said drivers would rather keep working as before, not be reduced to taking government compensation. He said it is the ride-hailing service Uber that should be paying to enter the field.

“The premier’s job is to go get money from Uber, not from taxpayers to pay us,” Homsy said.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe