Uber Threatens to Leave Quebec Over New Driver Training Requirements

The Quebec government says it won't back down from requiring Uber drivers to complete 35 hours of training.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

It's like what happened last year in Austin, Texas, but with poutine instead of queso. The CBC reports that Uber is threatening to pull out of Quebec effective Oct. 14 over disagreements with the government regarding driver training.

Uber has been operating in Quebec on a one-year pilot project. Unlike other places where it has pulled out, Uber has actually complied with provincial requirements for driver background checks, annual vehicle inspections, and 20 hours of mandatory training. In its renewal of the pilot program, the Quebec government has increased the mandatory training to 35 hours, the same as commercial taxi drivers. Other Canadian provinces have no special training requirement at all.

As usual in areas where Uber operates, taxi drivers have objected to Uber getting around requirements and regulations with which taxis are required to comply. Yet Uber apparently refuses to be held to the same standards as taxi drivers. Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, director general of Uber Quebec, told the Montreal Gazette that 35 hours of training is unreasonable to expect of Uber's 5,000 drivers in Quebec, most of whom only drive part-time.

The Quebec government, however, says the matter is not open for debate. 

“We are not in a negotiation process,” said Quebec Transport Minister Laurent Lessard. “We tabled a project and we indicated the elements. So only they can decide what will happen on the 14th. I am open to hearing how they propose to attain the objective, but we are firm on the targets.”

The conflict in Quebec comes just days after London, England, refused to renew Uber's license to operate in the city. The Texas government eventually required Austin to let Uber and rival Lyft back in. But in this case, it's the provincial government that is setting the standards with which Uber refuses to comply, not an individual city. With neither side willing to budge, it seems that Uber customers will have to find a new way to get around starting Oct. 14.