This afternoon Ottawa-South M.P.P. John Fraser announced he will be tabling legislation tomorrow in the Ontario Legislature to address the issue of unlicensed taxis also known as “bandit taxis”.
These illegal operators are a problem on streets in Ottawa and throughout Ontario and one I have been fighting hard for four years to challenge effectively. Operating without oversight, outside the law and frequently committing other criminal offences Bandit Taxis have been charged in Ottawa with offences ranging from having no drivers license or insurance to possession of drugs and weapons in their cars. Without respect for our community standards or the law they present a danger to residents and visitors to our Nation’s Capital.
The proposed amendments that M.P.P. Fraser has outlined in the Protecting Passenger Safety Act are ones that our City Government and I have requested of the Province. If passed, law enforcement officers and courts would be able to:
- Issue stiffer fines for drivers operating an unlicensed passenger vehicle
- Increase demerit points for the driver of a bandit taxi under the Highway Traffic Act
- Suspend licenses for repeat offenders
- Impound the vehicles of repeat offenders on the spot - roadside
These measures will address this important issue of public safety, will impose more significant penalties and gives those in authority the ability to enforce these new laws.
Our residents expect and deserve safe travel while in our City and Province and I fully support this legislation and thank M.P.P. John Fraser for bringing it forward today. Over recent years other Ottawa members have been supportive of the idea of making changes to address these challenges including Ministers’ Naqvi, Chiarelli, Meilleur and MPP MacLeod. I am hopeful for broad support from all parties in support of these changes.
Currently in Ottawa our By-Law & Regulatory Services Branch enforces taxi legislation municipally. While the Protecting Passenger Safety Act is being considered I commit to approaching the Attorney General to raise the opportunity for By-Law Special Constables to be created in Ottawa. These officers would have a detailed understanding of all taxi related laws and be empowered to enforce them to protect passengers and drivers.