Alberta Regulates Ride-Sharing Companies like Uber

The province of Alberta has introduced regulations for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and has opened the door for such services to work legally in the province if they abide by new laws. The legislation also allows Uber to commence legal operations in Edmonton, where a previous vote had decided to regulate the company.

It is unclear at this point whether Uber will agree with the Albertan regulations, but they do closely mirror other rules created in other Canadian municipalities, such as Toronto.

Edmonton voted to legalize Uber (and other ride-sharing companies) in January, but the city left licensing and auto insurance regulations up to the province. This left Uber in limbo, unable to commence legal operations in the city until the provincial government announced its own laws.

With Alberta now announcing its laws, it is giving Uber a clear choice, comply or leave. In Toronto the company seems to be willing to comply and work with local authorities on regulations that are not dissimilar to Alberta’s. However, in Calgary, again with similar laws, the company decided to leave the market entirely … what happens in Alberta remains to be seen.

Bill 16 is very clear about what Uber and its drivers need to do, and it rests on them needing a Class 4 license to work for ride-sharing companies. Transportation Minister Brian Mason says that the penalties for Uber not abiding by the laws will be harsh, with fines of $50,000 per day handed out to the company.

A Class 4 license is the type of clearance that is reserved for commercial drivers, including taxi operatives, unlike the Class 5 license held by normal drivers. Under the new regulations, ride-sharing drivers will also need to undergo police information checks and have commercial auto insurance or specifically designed coverage for ride-sharing companies.

The province did not say where that coverage will come from, but did say it would be ready on July 1. Aviva Canada already has a product on the market, but it is not available in Alberta yet, while Uber is known to have been working with Intact Insurance on a bespoke policy. It is unclear which of those will be arriving in Alberta in July.

“The main emphasis has been on safety for the public,” Mason told a news conference at the legislature after introducing the bill in the house Monday.

“When you call with your app a stranger to come and pick you up, you need to know that that person has not got a criminal record … that they are capable of driving you safely, and that if you do get into an accident you do have the requisite insurance.”

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