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Plan to make taxi prepayments mandatory at night misses crucial issue, Manitoba chiefs say

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City should focus instead on making taxis safer for First Nations women: Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it is disappointed in a city pilot project to make partial prepayment of taxi cab fares mandatory at night. Ikwe Safe Rides, a non-profit alternative to taxis […]


City should focus instead on making taxis safer for First Nations women: Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it is disappointed in a city pilot project to make partial prepayment of taxi cab fares mandatory at night. Ikwe Safe Rides, a non-profit alternative to taxis for Indigenous women, disagrees, saying prepayment of fares will make women feel less judged and make it more fair for all. (Shutterstock)

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it is disappointed with a city pilot project that would require all riders taking a cab at night to prepay some of the fare.

In a news release Wednesday, Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said the city should be focusing more on issues directly affecting First Nations women who have concerns using taxis.

"The taxi prepayment pilot appears to be working toward a pre-determined conclusion: To solidify prepayment instead of focusing on how the existing provision of taxi services continues to adversely impact First nations women," Dumas said.

"AMC continues to hear from First Nations women that they still have concerns with using taxis, including harassment and inappropriate behaviour."

The City of Winnipeg should stand up to the powerful taxi lobby … and city council should take leadership on the issue of safety and prevent violence against First Nations women when taking taxis.

The pilot project is expected to begin over the next few weeks, but it's not known how much of the fare will be required to be paid up front. The city says it will be seeking input from the public and the taxi industry.

However AMC says, instead of prepayment issues it wants city officials to act on recommendations made in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The report calls for transportation service providers to have mandatory cultural sensitivity training.

"The City of Winnipeg should stand up to the powerful taxi lobby, and instead of seeking input to justify the pre-collection of fares, Mayor Brian Bowman and city council should take leadership on the issue of safety and prevent violence against First Nations women when taking taxis," Dumas said.

At yesterday's executive policy committee meeting, Bowman introduced a motion that asked the public service review the final MMIWG report and make recommendations on how the city can respond.

Although I disagree with AMC's suggestion that a prepayment would be negative, I absolutely 100 per cent agree that this is to help keep women of all backgrounds, especially Indigenous women, safe.

"The mayor looks forward to seeing the results of that review," a spokesman said in a news release. "With regard to taxi prepayments, it is important to note that this is a pilot project that the city is inviting public input on. All Winnipeggers who use taxi services are encouraged to provide input to the city to help shape this pilot project."

Management at Ikwe Safe Rides doesn't think this is a negative idea at all.

"We want to take away some of the judgment that some of the women are feeling," said Christine Brouzes, co-director of the non-profit group that offers an alternative to taxis for Indigenous women. She also sits on the city's transportation advisory council.

Brouzes says these changes will make it more fair for both customers and taxi cab companies.

Taxi drivers accused of profiling

Currently, taxi drivers in Winnipeg have the freedom to ask for prepayment of the whole fare from customers, something Brouzes says needs to change.

"Drivers can judge based on appearance of the person getting in the car, or based on the area the person is requesting to go to," she said. "I would say almost all, the majority of 18,000 women in our group, that a lot of them have felt commonly profiled by taxi drivers."

Brouzes says AMC's concerns about safety are valid.

"Although I disagree with AMC's suggestion that a prepayment would be negative, I absolutely 100 per cent agree that this is to help keep women of all backgrounds, especially Indigenous women, safe," she said.

"That is our No.1 goal at Ikwe and essentially, we would love not to exist as a non-profit organization."

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