Taxicab Owner v Requirement for Taxicab Owner’s Licence
October 1, 2018
Province of Ontario (“Province”) and City of Toronto (“City”) Governments
What is a business licence? A business licence is an annual regulatory permit for the privilege of conducting business within a municipality’s territorial boundaries and is issued after a business has complied with applicable municipal, provincial, territorial and federal requirements and after all applicable fees have been paid.
Why are business licences required? Licences are required for four main purposes:
• To identify your business and make sure you are accountable for your actions;
• Health, safety and well-being of persons;
• Protection of persons and property including consumer protection; and
• Raise city revenues.
Does business licensing require a level of fairness and equality? I believe that answer in Canada is clearly spelled out.
“Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – Equality Rights – Equality Before and Under Law and Equal Protection and Benefit of Law
15.(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law, without discrimination.”
When you review the definition of a Taxi Business in the federal Excise Tax Act, which would take precedence over any municipal by-law’s definition, you will find Toronto is in violation of the Act by requiring some categories to require a taxicab owner’s licence, but other categories both inside and outside of the by-law who are all operating within the federal definition of a taxi business are not required to have this licence.
“Excise Tax Act – Part IX – Goods and Services Tax – Division I – Interpretation
Definitions – 123.(1) – Taxi Business Means
(b) – A business carried on in Canada by a person of transporting passengers for fares by motor vehicle – being a vehicle that would be an automobile as defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act, if that definition were read without reference to “motor vehicle acquired primarily for use as a taxi” in its paragraph (c) and without reference to it paragraph (e) – and with within a particular municipality and its environs if the transportation is arranged or coordinated through an electronic platform or system.”
The following is a list of required licenses as stated in the City of Toronto (“City”) Municipal Code, Chapter 546, Licensing of Vehicles-for-Hire By-law that allows a person or persons to work in the City’s vehicle-for-hire industry.
“Toronto Municipal Code – Chapter 546 – Licensing – Vehicles-for-Hire (“VFH”)
546-2. Licence Requirement
(A) – No person shall carry on any of the following businesses or occupations in Toronto until he or she has obtained a corresponding licence from the ML&S.
(1) – Taxicab owner;
(2) – Vehicles-for-Hire driver;
(3) – Taxicab operator;
(4) – Taxicab broker;
(5) – Limousine owner;
(6) – Limousine service company;
(7) – Private transportation company; or
(8) – PTC driver.”
You will notice there are two glaring omissions for requiring and/or paying for a taxicab owner’s licence. One is that there is no requirement for a Private Transportation Company (“PTC”) vehicle owner to have one and although it does say a Taxicab Owner requires one, the City has given an exemption for one of its taxicab owner categories, the Toronto Taxicab Licence (“TTL”) from paying a licensing fee this licence.
The exemption of not paying for a City taxicab owner’s licence for TTL’s was given allegedly because of the cost of the vehicle as they are all wheelchair accessible vans, but in reality, it was given as an olive branch to a taxicab driver to entice him or her into buying the vehicle and maintaining it even though, according to a provincial Act and Regulation, it is the City’s responsibility in those areas, not the taxicab drivers.
The TTL licence category came about because of a provincial mandate that all Ontario municipalities must provide an on-demand taxicab service for the physically disabled community, which has since been expanded to include the cognitively impaired community as well.
“Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
Ontario Regulation 191/ 11 – Duties of “municipalities”, accessible taxicabs
79.(1) – Every municipality shall consult with its municipal accessibility advisory committee, where one has been established in accordance with subsection 29.(1) or (2) of the Act, the public and persons with disabilities to determine the proportion of on-demand accessible taxicabs required in the community.
(2) – Every municipality shall identify progress made toward meeting the need for on-demand accessible taxicabs, including any steps that will be taken to meet the need, in the accessibility plan required under Part I.
(3) – Municipalities shall meet the requirements of the section by January 1, 2013.
(4) – In this section – “accessible taxicab” means an accessible taxicab as defined in section I of Regulation 629 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 (Vehicles for the Transportation of Physically Disabled Persons) made under the Highway Traffic Act.”
A few things to now consider. Taxicabs, PTC’s and TTL’s all operate a taxi business as clearly defined in the federal Excise Tax Act. The City never held consultations with its taxicab industry as mandated by Regulation 191/11, 79.(1) and the City did not follow the section’s guidelines to determine proportionality. Section 79.(3) clearly states this service is the responsibility of the municipality, not the taxicab industry.
This exemption for TTL’s was alleged to help in the purchasing of expensive wheelchair accessible vans. Considering that it is the City’s responsibility to provide these vehicles and along with the fact that equipment costs have nothing to do with the purpose of municipal licensing or that TTL drivers are allowed to service all consumers not just the disabled or cognitively impaired ones, why is there an exemption at all for this category?
It can be argued that if the aforementioned is the true reason behind TTL’s not requiring a taxicab owner’s licence, this could be applied to the sedan owners as well, especially the taxicab sedan owners. This group, unlike the PTC vehicle owner, has by-law mandates as to what sedans are allowed to be used and the fact these drivers also service the disabled and cognitively impaired communities.
Taxicab sedan drivers load and unload the disabled and cognitively impaired consumer if they have any mobility whatsoever and load and unload their canes, walkers and collapsible wheelchairs as well.
So, with all of the aforementioned legal proofs on who requires a taxi owner’s licence, why aren’t the PTC and TTL vehicle owners required to have and/or pay a licensing fee for an owner’s licence since they both meet the federal definition of running a taxi business like any other taxicab owner?
Private Companies Operating Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles Without Their Vehicle Owners Having A Toronto Vehicle Owner’s Licence
As I did in my letter dated September 1, 2018 about taxi owners not required to have a VFH driver’s licence, I pointed out to the City’s Municipal Licensing and Standards (“ML&S”) that there were several companies such as Wheelchair Accessible Transit, Celebrity Wheelchair Accessible Transit and AVS Taxi, who have operated wheelchair accessible vehicles for decades in the City, without any business license and that of course includes not having a vehicle owner’s licence.
On August 7, 2018 as part of a response letter to me, Ms. Tracey Cook, the Executive Director of the ML&S responded to this point by saying the following:
“Lately, you have made inquiries and provided examples of businesses that offer wheelchair accessible van service. It is ML&S’ view that the current structure and wording of the by-law does not require these businesses to obtain a licence. We will take your submissions on the fairness of these examples into account as part of the upcoming review of Chapter 546.”
Ms. Cook’s response is indeed peculiar and without foundation on a number of fronts. Since these companies are operating vehicles for hire and receiving compensation for their services, wouldn’t the structure she says does not exist be found within Chapter 546 as it is, Licensing of Vehicles-for-Hire?
If you review Chapter 546, Article 5, Taxicab Owners you will see numerous sections that deal with Accessible Vehicles so would that not be the wording that Ms. Cook says does not exist?
The licensing fee structure for Taxicab owners is in place as well under the “Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 441, Fees and Charges, Appendix C, Schedule 12, Municipal Licensing and Standards with the following reference numbers.
a) – 380 – VFH Licensing, Renewal fee Standard Taxicab Owner licence;
b) – 380.1 – VFH Licensing, Application Fee: Toronto Taxicab Owner licence; and
c) – 380.2 – VFH Licensing, Renewal Fee, Toronto Taxicab Owner licence.”
Note: I believe b) and c) have either been altered or are no longer required.
If Ms. Cook would take the time to read the entire definition of a taxi business as is stated in the federal Excise Tax Act, especially “(b) a business carried on in Canada by a person of transporting passengers for fares by motor vehicle” she would realize there is more than enough structure and wording in Chapter 546 to support licensing these private companies operating wheelchair accessible vans for hire.
Just the fact that the by-law mandates the TTL’s to be licensed, which are also wheelchair accessible vans, is enough proof in itself to require these private companies wheelchair accessible vans to require a City taxi business vehicle owner’s licence.
I am sure that these private companies and perhaps Ms. Cook herself will come up with the defense that these companies have an exemption from a City taxi owner’s licence for the following reason:
“Public Vehicles Act (“PVA”) R.S.O. 1990, c. P.54 Definitions, Operating licence required, Exception, (3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person transporting only passengers with mobility disabilities in a public vehicle that is specifically equipped with a lift or ramp mechanism for the boarding of passengers with mobility disabilities. 2016. C. 5, Sched. 25, s.2.”
According to the Ontario Highway Transport Board, who regulates and enforces the PVA, just because the Province does not require any specific Provincial business licence for these vehicles, that does not preclude any municipality from requiring a vehicle owner’s licence or any other business licence that might by required under the circumstances.
Considering one of the main reasons the City licenses any vehicle for hire is to protect the consumer, by not licensing these vehicles is the City not in violation of their own Act, the “City of Toronto Act, 2006, (“COTA”) Part II, General Powers, Powers, Broad Authority, City By-laws, 8. (2) 6. Health, safety and well-being of persons and 8. Protection of persons and property, including consumer protection?”
This report clearly shows that the ML&S has abused its authority in this area and has violated the “City of Toronto Act, 2006, Part II, General Powers, Powers, Broad Authority, City By-laws, 8. (2) Business Licensing, 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 8 (2); 2006, c.32, Sched. B., s. 3 (1&2), 2, 2017, c. 10, Sched, 2, s.1.”
Considering a federal statute states that PTC and TTL vehicle owners including private companies who are running wheelchair accessible vans for remuneration are all operating a taxi business like any other taxicab owner does “one of two scenarios must apply when it comes to a taxicab owner’s licence in Toronto.”
Scenario #1 – “All” vehicle owners in a taxi business as defined in the federal Excise Tax Act require a VFH owner’s licence and pay a licensing fee.
Scenario #2 – “No” vehicle owners in a taxi business as defined in the federal Excise Tax Act require a VFH owner’s licence or have to pay a licensing fee.
Due to the inability of the ML&S, Licensing and Standards Committee (“LSC”) and City Council to achieve licensing parity regarding a taxicab owner’s licence, I am requesting that the VFH owner’s licensing fee of $964.86 that I paid to cover the period from August 23, 2018 through August 23, 2019 and as well, my VFH driver’s licensing fee of $130 that I paid for the period from August 16, 2017 through August 16, 2018, both be reimbursed to me in full.
I am further recommending that all licensing involving Chapter 546 be temporarily suspended until all categories names in and outside of the by-law that are carrying on a taxi business as defined by the federal Excise Tax Act, Definitions, 123 (1) reach a level of both fairness and equality.
Gerald H. Manley
105 Rowena Dr. Suite 405
Canada, M3A 1R2
Toronto Taxi Owner – Licence Number 416