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Alberta to create new insurance policy for Uber drivers

Under Bill 16, drivers must purchase commercial insurance or follow the July 1 policy

The Alberta government has introduced new rules to regulate ride-hailing companies such as Uber, some of which will hinge on qualifying for commercial auto insurance.

Transportation Minister Brian Mason says that under Bill 16, anyone who wants to drive for such a company will have to have a professional Class 4 licence.

They will also have to undergo a police information check and be subject to either commercial insurance or a new insurance policy specifically tailored to the industry, which will be ready by July 1.

It will be up to the companies to conduct the checks, ensure the drivers have the correct insurance, and are up to standard.

“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.”

The maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine per offence per day subject to appeal to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board.

“We wanted to make sure that the penalties meant something,” said Mason.

A Class 4 licence is for professional drivers and includes more training on defensive driving, handling disabled passengers, and dealing with fatigue.

The police information check goes beyond a criminal record check to plumb for outstanding charges and pending court decisions.

Mason said they’ve left mechanical inspections of the cars to the cities to regulate.

Edmonton has already passed regulations for ride-hailing but left the insurance and licensing provisions to the province.

Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for Uber, said they are reviewing the bill.

“We hope that the province will bring forward smart regulations that embrace the environmental, safety and economic benefits of ride-sharing,” he said.