Bill to legalize Uber, AirBnb in Ontario passes second reading

TORONTO – A bill that would make Uber and AirBnB legal in Ontario passed second reading in the legislature Thursday.

Former Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s private member’s bill would allow ride-sharing, home-sharing and parking-sharing apps such as Rover, which lets Toronto homeowners rent their parking spots for $2 an hour, to operate.

Hudak, who is a regular user of Uber and AirBnb, said the services give consumers more choice and empower Ontarians to make some extra money.

“There are two commodities in life that we don’t have nearly enough of: time and money,” he said. “Through the use of modern consumer technology, the simple push of the pad on your smartphone, you can have a bit more of both.”

The bill now has to go to committee to be studied before it has a chance at becoming law.

Some Liberals voted against Hudak’s bill, but enough supported it to pass. Environment Minister Glen Murray said he supported the bill so it could be studied at committee because the issue is complex and needs a thorough hearing.

“There is no easy narrative here and there is a lot at stake,” he said. “While I think there are opportunities for many here for greater income and security there are huge risks.”

Uber in particular has prompted some fierce debates in municipalities and New Democrat Cheri DiNovo said this bill cuts communities out of the debate.

“Municipalities need their say,” she said. “We can’t impose unilaterally regulations and stipulations on a municipality without having them at the table.”

Under Hudak’s bill, municipalities would not be able to ban Uber.

There would still be municipal licensing, but there would be a new category called the Transportation Networking Company that would come with consumer protection and public safety initiatives, Hudak has said.

DiNovo rattled off a host of other concerns such as precarious employment, privacy and customer safety.

“We’re on the tipping point of a brand new technology no doubt,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that we have to abrogate our responsibility to look after those who are affected by it.”