Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs opposes Winnipeg’s taxi pre-payment pursuit

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs announced Wednesday it opposes the City of Winnipeg’s taxi pre-payment pilot project.

The pilot project would require passengers to pay part of their fare before the trip during certain days and times. It’s currently seeking public feedback on the idea through an online survey.

The city said the idea aims to ease tensions between drivers and passengers.

“Passengers and industry stakeholders have identified fare disputes as a source of conflict and a top safety concern,” said the City of Winnipeg in a news release last week.

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But the AMC said in a release Wednesday that taxi services in the city “adversely impact First Nations women” and it wants to see more changes to protect them.

“Currently, taxi drivers are already allowed to ask for pre-payment, and there are no restrictions on the time or date when the pre-payment can be requested. The AMC has heard that this practice is unilateral, and is not applied in the same way to all individuals,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.

Dumas added there were a number of grassroots initiatives aimed at providing safe rides for Indigenous women in the city, including Neechi Rides and Ikwe Safe rides, but only the latter still exists due to rideshare restrictions.

Safety issues persist, Dumas said.

“AMC continues to hear from First Nations women that they still have concerns with using taxis, including harassment and inappropriate behaviour. The regulation of volunteer ridesharing effectively limited the response to the reality of the taxi industry in Winnipeg.”

The AMC is calling on the city to implement rules and policies to protect Indigenous women, especially in light of the final report from the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“The City of Winnipeg should meaningfully respond to the issues of the safety of First Nations women that would include requiring mandatory cultural sensitivity training,” Dumas said.