Taxi widows to speak at TTA August 19 meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Taxi Widows Devastated By New Toronto Taxi By-law To speak At August 19th Meeting Of Toronto Taxi Alliance 

(TORONTO, Ontario – August 19th, 2014) – Widows of taxi drivers who have been devastated by Toronto’s proposed new taxi by-law will be special guest speakers at the August 19th meeting of the Toronto Taxi Alliance.

“These changes will destroy the lifetime investment of hundreds of cab drivers and their families and will hurt vulnerable people,” said Judi Barr, the wife of 35-year veteran Standard Taxicab owner/driver Joel Barr.

“For so many of us, the Standard Taxicab is our pension plan. For others, it’s how they support themselves and their loved ones.”

“The Standard Taxicab is how I support my four children. We are still struggling after my husband’s death and to have this taken away from us would be devastating. I don’t know how we will survive,” said Nusrat Raana, whose husband Mahmood Bhatti, was murdered behind the wheel of his cab in 2006.

After three years of negotiations with the taxi industry, Toronto City Council ignored the recommendations of its own Licensing and Standards Committee and passed motions in February to overhaul the taxi licensing regime. The changes to the Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 545 were approved by Council on June 13 and were scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2014.

However, the widows who are members of the Toronto Taxi Alliance were successful in obtaining an injunction to stop the City of Toronto from imposing sections of a new taxi licensing regime scheduled to become effective July 1, 2014.

On August 19th, the Toronto Taxi Alliance will hold an information update meeting at the Montecassino Banquet Hall, 3710 Chesswood Drive in Downsview to update concerned taxi owners and industry members on actions taken since the June 25th injunction decision and work planned in advance of the November court hearing.

The program will begin at 7pm and will include remarks from two Taxi Widows who will speak on the impact this decision will have on family members who rely on the income generated by their taxi plate in order to survive.

The Honourable Justice D.G. Stinson of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued an injunction against the City from acting upon or implementing those sections of the new by-law that prevented the purchase of a Standard Taxicab from an owner of a Standard Taxicab Licence (STL) or the estate of a deceased STL owner after June 30, 2014. 

However, the court also ordered that if the by-law is upheld by the court on the hearing of the Application to Quash, then those persons who acquired an STL after June 30, 2014, would not have any right to claim that they should be treated as if they had been an STL holder on or before July 1, 2014.

 “We are very pleased with this decision. We feel our concerns have been validated by Ontario Superior Court, and we look forward to having the opportunity to present our full argument in the Motion to Quash which will be heard in November,” said Joel Barr, a Standard Taxicab owner.

“The City of Toronto attempted to move with unprecedented haste and lack of concern on this matter. These changes will destroy the lifetime investment of hundreds of cab drivers and their families and will hurt vulnerable people,” Barr said.

“For almost 50 years, Toronto has assured the taxi industry that purchasing and operating a Standard Taxicab was an investment in a business which would help provide income as well as a retirement nest egg. The taxi industry has held up its part of the bargain, and helped Toronto build one of the best taxicab services in the world. Now, Toronto wants to renege on the deal it made, to the severe detriment of elderly drivers, their widows and their families.”

Among other changes, the new regime would replace the Standard Taxicab with a Toronto Taxicab License (TTL). TTL owners must operate the cab themselves and cannot lease them out and generate income the way Standard Taxicab owners can under the current rules.  Further, the restrictions and conditions associated with the TTL would severely dilute the value of the Standard Taxicab.

The application to quash is scheduled to be heard on November 17th – 19th, 2014.

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About the Toronto Taxi Alliance

The Toronto Taxi Alliance represents the vast majority of owners, drivers, brokerages, fleets, agents, and Ambassador permit holders. The member brokerages of the TTA represent more than 4,000 of the 4,800 taxis on the road.