Bankruptcies have tripled since Uber

News 23 March, 2018
  • Matthew Payen

    Friday, 23 march, 2018 01:00

    Friday, 23 march, 2018 01:00

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    The bankruptcy of the taxi drivers have jumped in Quebec from 2014, the year in which the application Uber is located in the province, according to documents obtained by The Newspaper.

    The number of bankruptcies of taxi owners is increased from 9, from 2011 to 2014, 27, from 2015 to 2017, if we are to believe the figures from the Office of the superintendent of bankruptcy of Canada.

    A few days of the tabling of the provincial budget, the taxi industry is hoping frantically to obtain the government guarantee that the loss of income and the decrease in the value of permits related to the competition from Uber will be compensated.

    But in spite of three meetings in Quebec, no agreement has been reached and the time is running out for the drivers.

    Not surprised

    The figures obtained by The Newspaper, not surprising the four industry representatives we spoke to.

    “One regularly sees members sharing their bankruptcy with us. It is sad, but this is what we saw, ” says Kamal Sabbah, vice-president of the Regroupement des propriétaires de taxi de Montréal (RPTM), which said counting 2,500 members, which is more than half of drivers-owners in montreal.

    These figures may even be higher, according to him, without the resilience of the drivers who cling to the hope to see their losses compensated and Uber disappear at the end of the pilot project in October.

    “Some rely on the income of their spouses, others inflate their credit cards,” he says.

    The government says his side do not know about these data that The Log submitted.

    “We have not taken account of bankruptcy [in the negotiations], because the taxi industry has never asked us to look into,” says Audrey Cloutier, press attaché to the minister of Finance Carlos Leitao, head of the negotiations.

    “But we are open to adding this element to discussions,” says Ms. Cloutier.

    Compensation ?

    Last December, the minister of Transport, André Fortin, had announced in front of a hundred drivers as a solution to the request for compensation of the drivers would be found before the budget was tabled on march 27.

    “To date, the position of Quebec is still not clear. Will we be compensated ? If yes, how many ? And that happens with Uber ? ” asks George Tannous, vice-president of the provincial Committee for consultation and development of the taxi industry.

    “Since 2014, there have been two parliamentary committees, a working table, a table of modernization and a committee of support to the modernization, it never ends, he adds. During this time, there are people who suffer. “

    Despite all this, the representatives of the drivers want to still believe that a favorable outcome is possible.

    “The government has acted in the past to preserve jobs in Quebec. Here, there are 21, 000 in the game “, argues Mr. Sabbah.


    Bankruptcy of taxis in Quebec

    • 2017: 15
    • 2016: 0
    • 2016: 12
    • 2014 (Arrival of Uber): 3
    • 2013: 3
    • 2012: 3
    • 2011: 0

    Source : Office of the superintendent of bankruptcy Canada


    “It was the coup de grace for me.”

    Photo Matthieu Payen

    Six months after bankruptcy, George Mouchantaf rent now a taxi to work in Montreal. He said he ” liberated “.

    The arrival of Uber in Montreal has pushed a montréal taxi driver whose bankruptcy after 20 years spent behind the wheel.

    Georges Mouchantaf is not tender towards Quebec.

    “Our industry suffered in 2014 because there was too much allowed in Montreal. But instead of giving us oxygen, the government has asphyxiated by allowing Uber, ” he said. It was the coup de grace for me. “

    Mr. Mouchantaf started out as a taxi driver in 1997. At the time, his colleagues advised him to purchase a licence the value of which was insured to ride regularly. In 2000, he borrows, therefore, 45 000 $ in the Desjardins Caisse populaire.

    “I would have been able to buy a home, but I put my money in a licence “, said the man, now 56 years of age.

    Quickly, he realized that it was difficult for him to complete his end of the month.

    Value not guaranteed

    “Between the loan to reimburse, insurance, license plates and maintenance of the car, I only had big-thing,” he said. I had a child to raise, I could not work 13 hours per day, 7 days a 7 as some do. “

    Each year, Mr. Mouchantaf réempruntait therefore between 5000 and 10 000 $ in putting his license as collateral, which was possible since its value did not cease to climb.

    But from 2015, its revenues have plunged and the bank refused to let him withdraw because the value of his permit was no longer guaranteed due to Uber, ” he said.

    “Last year, the bank I called for 4000 $, but I was unable to pay because my credit cards were full, he acknowledges. I have not had the choice of going bankrupt. “

    Mr. Mouchantaf had to decide to let go of its permit, the only property he possessed.

    “I approach the age of retirement and I have nothing in my pockets,” he says, bitter.

    The one who rents it now for a taxi to an owner for work stating that he will not permit even if Uber disappears.

    “The drivers are prisoners of their car,” he said. Today, I am free of it. “