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

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read