Training hours go up, Uber Quebec goes down

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

After government proposes new standards, Uber threatens to leave the province

Uber driver Francis Galarneau said he thinks a mandatory 35 hours of training for drivers is too long and so does his boss, Uber Québec general manager Jean-Nicolas Guillemette. The extended training is part of the government of Quebec’s new demands for the ride-sharing behemoth.

The changes to the province’s deal with Uber were presented by Quebec’s Minister of Transport Laurent Lessard on Sept. 22. Following Lessard’s announcement, Guillemette said Uber would pack up its things and leave Quebec.

The provincial government’s renewed deal with the American company also included the addition of criminal background checks performed by police on drivers, according to Mathieu Gaudreault, a spokesperson for Lessard.

“We do not want Uber’s departure from Quebec,” Gaudreault told The Concordian. “We believe that these modifications are legitimate and realistic.” Gaudreault added that the number of training hours were non-negotiable.

Galarneau’s situation is similar to that of many other Uber drivers: he has a full-time job and drive part-time on the side. According to a 2015 study by Uber’s head of research, Jonathan Hall, and Princeton University professor Alan Krueger, 31 per cent of the company’s drivers continue to work full-time.

Galarneau said it would be impossible for him to do the 35-hour training. “A training course via audio through the app would be a good solution,” he added.

The Uber driver said he believes the company already regulates its drivers enough for the app to be a safe service.

To become an Uber driver, Galarneau said he had to show proof of his driver’s license as well as undergo a vision exam, a medical exam and a theory exam—all of which had to be completed through the Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ). Galarneau’s car also went through an initial inspection with Uber Montreal, which the company repeats annually. He said that, in total, all the exams cost him about $300.

When he first started driving, Galarneau said he only received an hour-and-a-half worth of training from a video he had to watch at the Uber Montreal office. He also explained that, if an Uber driver “constantly gets under 4.65 stars for their service on the Uber app, they are deactivated from the platform.”

“I’ve heard many customers mention that they prefer the services of Uber much better than taxis,” Galarneau said.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

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