The Fight Is On

This editorial appeared in the May edition of the TaxiNews and is worth sharing.

We at Taxi News completely support the position taken by the Toronto Taxi Alliance in its now open legal fight with the City of Toronto.

Our reading  and no one has said this outright to our knowledge of the ultimate goal of the TTA in this action against the City is to try to establish once and for all a secure financial foundation for the industry and ALL of its participants, from the biggest plate owners (and there aren’t that many any more) to the thousands of shift drivers struggling to make some semblance of a living for themselves and their families.

The TTA represents owners, fleet operators and brokerages. But make no mistake, if it wins in court, simple cab drivers are going to be hugely better off as well. If this by-law stands, everyday cab drivers are going to make even less than the pittance they take home now. That is because the costs to operate a taxi are going to skyrocket while street competition is going to balloon. Drivers: if you think you’ve got it bad now, just wait until these “reforms” kick in. You’re screwed. Your licensing fees next year are already going through the roof, again.

What happened on February 19th at the City Council meeting was unconscionable. Motions were flying fast and furious, reflecting the utterly ill-considered random thoughts of councillors who had not done one iota of homework or research into the deep, Council-created problems of an entire billion-dollar industry employing, conservatively, directly and indirectly, some 25,000 people in this city.

An entire industry has been thrown into chaos by our utterly thoughtless City Council passing brutally unfair and destructive laws that effectively wipe out lifetimes of work and struggle and sacrifice by people who have served this city too long and too well to be treated like dirt.

While all agree the disabled need better taxi service, for the fleet to be 100 percent wheelchair accessible, replacing fuel efficient gasoline-powered Camry’s and the like with huge, gas guzzling, expensive, high-maintenance, high insurance-cost vans is purely and simply brain-dead.

The TTA wants the courts to quash the odious taxi reform by-law on procedural grounds, alleging that Council did not follow its own rules in proposing and enacting various amendments.

The hardships Council’s actions have directly caused are starting already. In recent Toronto Licensing Tribunal cases, some of those hardships have already been aired. We hope councillors are ever so proud to be forcing a 90-year old widow, now in hospital, to sell at a huge loss the two plates she and her husband worked 50-plus years in the business to get, and lose the $2,500 a month pension from leasing them out. (Do you think she drinks champagne and slurps oysters in Florida on that income, as some on Council would have you believe?)

Thankfully in this particular case a sympathetic TLT gave her a little more breathing space, but her new deadline to sell is the end of August and then, what? Welfare?

There are far more than this one victim out there watching a lifetime of work and their financial security go up in smoke because a bunch of know-nothing and could care less City councillors decided they and their loved ones are utterly disposable.

To quote Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong in another context: “One is too many.”

The TTA is right to say the real battle is not in a courtroom. It is political. It is up to individual members of the industry to talk to their own councillors and as many as they can in other wards to get their message across. Numbers count.

Time is short and it is your financial future at stake. We can only urge you to get seriously involved politically. It is not going to be easy. It might be expensive in time and effort. But the cost of doing nothing is far, far worse.