Uber says it may not come to Winnipeg after all.
In a written submission filed earlier this week to the Public Utilities Board, Uber Canada said it disagrees with a proposal by Manitoba Public Insurance to have individual drivers purchase additional vehicle insurance. MPI has proposed the rate would be lower than cab drivers, and would be different depending on what time of day the driver wants to pick up passengers or whether it's on a weekday or weekend.
The company says it wants to be allowed to buy its own blanket commercial insurance for all the drivers who want to drive passengers through it. It says this would ensure consistent coverage and not have individual drivers, most of whom drive only five to 10 hours a week for less than a year, "individually burdened by cost of commercial rideshare insurance."
"Based on the deficiencies in the MPI proposed product versus the type of insurance that is available to ridesharing companies in cities across North America, Uber will, unfortunately, be unable to consider expansion of services to Winnipeg on March 1, 2018," Uber Canada said in its four page submission.
"Uber will find it difficult, from a risk and compliance perspective, to do business in Manitoba. We feel that this will be detrimental to the citizens of Manitoba who are seeking efficient, safe transportation."
Uber said MPI's proposal is different than the insurance it has in place where it operates across North America including Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
A spokeswoman for Uber Canada said on Wednesday evening they would be making no further comment.
Late last year, MPI announced it was creating a separate class for Uber drivers called vehicle-for-hire insurance with the cost based on four "time bands". The bands would include whether the drivers wanted to pick up passengers on different weekday shifts, evening and overnight shifts, or on an entire weekend.
MPI said drivers could pay for one band, different combinations of them, or all of them.
A MPI spokesman would not comment on the Uber proposal, but in a statement MPI said this province's compulsory insurance program "requires insurance to be placed at the vehicle level."
MPI said this way any future insurance rate changes can be imposed "based on actual claims experience in Manitoba."
But MPI said the only commercial blanket policy it would allow Uber to buy would be one to provide insurance coverage, in case "one of their operators is driving on their platform without proper vehicle insurance."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.