No insurance until summer, so Uber says it will suspend Edmonton operations

Uber officials say they are suspending operations in Edmonton for now after the Alberta government announced it will make insurance available to drivers, but likely not until the summer.

EDMONTON — Uber officials say they are suspending operations in Edmonton for now after the Alberta government announced it will make insurance available to drivers, but likely not until the summer.

Ramit Kar, the general manager for the ride-booking company in Alberta, issued a news release Monday night announcing operations would cease as of Tuesday morning.

Kar described the suspension as temporary but did not say how long it would last.

On Monday, Transportation Minister Brian Mason said the insurance for Uber was approved but wouldn’t be ready until June or by July 1 at the latest.

He said the province needed to take the time to “do due diligence and ensure that there’s no loopholes.”

He said it was important that if a passenger were injured in an accident involving an Uber vehicle, the insurance company could not deny coverage.

Kar said the company would “respect” the province’s decision but added it “has cost thousands of Edmonton families a source of income by forcing Uber to suspend operations in the city.”

He added the suspension is “unfortunately depriving tens of thousands of local riders a safe, affordable and reliable transportation alternative.”

California-based Uber is an app-based business that allows people to request rides over their phones and sets them up with drivers in their personal vehicles. Getting an Uber ride is typically cheaper than taking a taxi.

Cities across the country have been debating how to handle Uber.

In January, Edmonton became the first jurisdiction to legalize the new industry, and a bylaw is to come into effect Tuesday, with conditions including provincially approved insurance, vehicle inspections and fees. Calgary city council also recently passed a bylaw which could start in April.

Kar released a statement Monday saying Edmonton’s mayor and city council could delay the bylaw until the insurance is available but Mayor Don Iveson said there would be no delay in the bylaw and Uber would have to shut down.

“If they operate without insurance, they’re going to be in a lot of trouble,” Iveson said.

Mason said it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the insurance is coming later.

“We’ve always been working along the basis that the insurance product wouldn’t be ready until June or July. I believe Uber and the city have been aware of that.”

In addition, the province is requiring ride-hailing drivers to get criminal record checks and have at least a Class 4 driver’s licence, which is a commercial licence.

Uber had fought the licence requirement, which is part of Calgary’s bylaw, and argued its drivers should just have a regular Class 5 licence. A Class 4 licence requires more training and knowledge in areas such as defensive driving, driver fatigue and dealing with disabled passengers, Mason said.

“Whether it’s full or part time, commercial drivers have a responsibility for their passengers which requires the appropriate level of skill and road knowledge,” he added.

“My top priority is to ensure that passengers as well as drivers are safe.”

Edmonton company TappCar, set to launch in the city in March, is hiring a mix of former Uber and taxi drivers and other professional drivers laid off from the oilpatch.

Spokesman Pascal Ryffel said the government regulations won’t delay the company. Its drivers will all have at least Class 4 licences and full commercial insurance similar to that for taxi drivers, he said.

“We always went under the assumption that these are the rules.”

Just Posted

The second Leah’s Light 5K walk/run for overdose awareness was held at Kiwanis Picnic Park in Red Deer on Saturday morning. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Child advocate calls for provincial youth strategy to address opioid crisis

Twenty-nine young Albertans died from opioid poisoning in the first three months of 2021

The viewing tower at Medicine River Wildife Centre is part of the centre’s walking trail. (Photo from Facebook)
Cross-country skiing coming to Medicine River Wildlife Centre

Recipient of $10,000 from 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society

The City of Red Deer is reaching out to the community to see if anyone wants to move and maintain the Scout Hut from 1937. The land it sits on is needed for a women’s shelter expansion. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
City of Red Deer is calling for proposals for preserving, moving Scout Hut

The 47th Avenue land it sits on is needed for women’s shelter expansion

Students at Olds College will be learning what’s new in agricultural technology at the facility’s Smart Farm. (Photo contributed)
New agricultural technologies explored by students at Olds College

Olds College is launching a new SmartFarm program to help farmers and… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Zach Smith tips a shot off the post against Edmonton Oil Kings netminder Sebastian Cossa Saturday night at the Centrium. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels name new assistant coach, open WHL season on Oct. 1

Rebels will play home opener on Oct. 2

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan's decision to travel to Arizona for a holiday has been sharply criticized by many.
Advocate file photo
Jason Stephan: Quebec’s actions undermine interests of Alberta

Prior to serving as a MLA, I structured many commercial partnership agreements.… Continue reading

FILE - Great Britain’s Andrew Matthews, from left to right, Ben Simons, Toby Olubi and Lamin Deen celebrate after their second-place finish in a four-man World Cup Bobsleigh race in Whistler, British Columbia, in this Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, file photo. British Bobsleigh and Skeleton announced Thursday, June 17, 2021, that the four-man team of Deen, Simons, Olubi and Matthews has been upgraded to the gold medal for a race that occurred Nov. 25, 2017 in Whistler, Canada. The Russian crew that beat them that day has since been disqualified. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Britain upgraded to World Cup bobsled gold from 2017 race

Driver of Russian sled was sanctioned for doping violations

Leylah Annie Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot Marie Bouzkova, of the Czech Republic, in round 1 of the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Toronto, Monday August 5, 2019. Leylah Annie Fernandez lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) to No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the second round of the Viking Classic Birmingham on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez loses third-set tiebreaker against Ons Jabeur

Jabeur now heads to the quarterfinals at the WTA Tour 250 grass-court event

Feist performs during the Polaris Music Prize gala in Toronto on September 18, 2017. Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist is hitting the road with what’s described as an intimate and “unconventional production” featuring all new music.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Donovan
Leslie Feist to debut new music in ‘unconventional’ and intimate ‘Multitudes’ show

Calgary-raised artist will debut show at Kampnagel Festival in Germany

Letter: Improvements coming to two intersections in Red Deer to help cyclists

A letter in the Advocate on June 9 with complaints about cyclists… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Trudeau tight-lipped on Constitution attack

When exactly did Canada become a Constitution-bashing country? For nearly 30 years,… Continue reading

Gwynne DYer
Opinion: Western countries giving out vaccines to poor nations

At the recent G7 summit, U.S. President Joe Biden promised to distribute… Continue reading

Most Read