Who does MLS serve?
We really wonder why it is so very, very difficult for Municipal Licensing and Standards to keep the taxi and other industries up to date on impending changes.
A case in point are the changes to City requirements for police criminal record background checks that came into effect November 1.
We have utterly no doubt MLS knew about these changes well in advance of their coming into effect, most likely by being informed directly by other levels of government and or police. So for pity’s sake why wouldn’t they tell all those who are licensed by the City and who may be affected by the change?
Someone at MLS is likely going to pawn off some excuse like, they posted it on their web site, as if everyone scours through the web site hourly or daily or weekly looking for obscure policy changes affecting their businesses. As if everyone in the taxi business has a computer. And we learn, sometimes information they post on the web site is incorrect, as verified by a representative of the Toronto Police Service.
MLS is doing everyone it is there to serve a huge disservice by not keeping people accurately informed about what is happening and of impending changes.
It of course gets worse when people are subjected to disciplinary sanctions but it is impossible in practice to know about those sanctions.
In a recent highly publicized case, a taxi driver accused of sexual assault and multiple counts of credit card fraud was allowed to keep his license, albeit on conditions, pending the outcome of his trial. Yet it was only through reading about this, and other cases, does the industry know about these decisions.
When cab companies call MLS to find out if a given driver is even licensed, they are told they have to file a Freedom of Information and Privacy request. Forget it totally if they ask if a driver has conditions placed on his license.
So even if one potential cab company, or lessor of a vehicle, knows about such a sanction, it doesn’t mean all know about it, and the driver can keep working.
Yes, decisions about individuals are posted on the Toronto Licensing Tribunal web site. Eventually. But a suspension may well be over before the decision is granted and only by off chance and good luck would anyone know if that driver has obeyed the terms of his or her probation. Who knows what damage a really bad driver could do while ignoring a TLT order? What danger to the public is potentially there?
What happens if a homeowner calls to ask if the license of a building renovator is in good standing, or if an individual or company has a history of complaints?
Are they told to file FOI’s as well? We haven’t tried, but strongly suspect they are. This is what is called consumer protection in Toronto, these days.
And then there are cases where the Toronto Licensing Tribunal, at the behest of the City, wants to hold secret hearings into the conduct of unnamed individuals, on unspecified charges.
As taxi industry members, with families the City is ostensibly there to protect, let alone the public at large, doesn’t that give you just the warmest and fuzziest of feelings of safety and security?
Doesn’t anyone at the City give a damn? This is a problem no one has a handle on and we submit the status quo is simply not good enough.
This culture of secrecy and obstruction must end.
We’ll see what this new City Council has to say about this utterly unacceptable situation.
Finally we note late in the month that in New York City, after the suicide deaths of eight taxi owners in 2018 alone, their City Council is starting to examine ways to ease cab owner’s debt loads. They have no solutions yet, but have waived US$20 million in fees already.
We’ll see if our City Council has the same level of integrity.
Once again the holiday season is upon us. It is normally a very busy time of year and we at Taxi News sincerely hope it is safe, healthy and prosperous for you all.