Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

AT YOUR SERVICE – A top light of a local taxi is seen this morning on Main Street. A report on passengers' perceptions of the safety of the industry was released over the weekend.

Some taxi incidents ranged on criminal: report

A new report on Whitehorse taxis indicates there are still serious public safety concerns, especially for women.

By Tim Giilck on January 10, 2022

A new report on Whitehorse taxis indicates there are still serious public safety concerns, especially for women.

The report was compiled by the Yukon Women’s Coalition after years of complaints from women using taxis in the city.

A survey was available for nine days last February, from which the results were compiled.

The report was published on Facebook over the weekend. It generated a good response, with 174 people responding. Of those, 160 identified as women, the report states.

“Respondents described a wide variety of incidents and concerns,” it says.

“The severity of incidents ranged from sub-criminal to criminal in nature. In nearly every category of incident, Indigenous respondents reported proportionally higher rates of violence, harassment, or encounters that made them feel unsafe or targeted.”

Of the 174 respondents, 107 (62 per cent) reported incidents related to harassment, sexualized harassment/assault, threats and/or coercion, the report says.

“Respondents indicated not knowing where or how to report incidents of gender-based violence. Those who were aware of reporting options often did not think what they experienced was severe enough to necessitate a report, or that enforcement responses would be effective.

“Respondents indicated that they didn’t know if cameras in taxis were present or ‘on,’ and taxi driver IDs were reported as being not visible, absent, or reflective of the driver in the taxi.”

Some respondents said they didn’t know how to tell if the cameras were operating in the vehicles.

Any solutions must come with co-operation from the industry, the City of Whitehorse, the Yukon government, First Nations, policing agencies and women’s advocates, the report suggests.

“Safe, affordable, accessible transportation systems are crucial for women to find and maintain employment and to live independently.”

The recommendations are called comprehensive.

They are derived from three sources: current survey responses, recommendations the women’s coalition made to city council in 2017, and recommendations from national GBV initiatives (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice and the National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence).

The recommendations have been organized into four themes:

• improvement of monitoring and enforcement;

• ongoing evaluation of preventative and mitigative measures;

• knowledge translation and mobilization; and

• systemic and structural changes.

‘Taxi safety will not be realized until we listen and appropriately respond to people with lived experiences of violence, harassment, and discrimination in Whitehorse taxis,” the report says.

“The effectiveness of mitigation efforts depend on the sustained monitoring of taxi safety issues and consistent evaluation of whether particular changes result in reductions of taxi-related GBV.

The report recommends increasing random spot checks of taxi drivers to monitor compliance with the city’s taxi bylaw and to increase the capacity for formal reporting of GBV incidents to Bylaw Services and the RCMP.

It also suggests finding methods to “incentivize informal reporting capacities such as driver rating app, and to produce annual reports regarding rates of reported incidents in taxis.”

As well, the report suggests “expanding the mandate of the City of Whitehorse Traffic and Street Sign Committee to include taxi safety or create a Transportation Safety Committee Secure funding for a Transportation Safety Committee that works together to address taxi safety that includes: a City of Whitehorse Traffic and Street Sign Committee representative, an RCMP representative, a Bylaw Services representative, Yukon Women’s Coalition member representatives, creation of and funding for a cross-jurisdictional scan of effective mitigative measures within the transportation system, in particular taxis.”

Representatives from the Yukon Status of Women Council refused to discuss the report with the Star due to a concern the paper doesn’t “moderate its comments both on Facebook and on its website.”

Jonna Reaume, the women’s coaltion’s co-ordinator, said much the same thing in declining to be interviewed.

City of Whitehorse officials were not able to comment on the report.

Myles Dolphin, the city’s manager of communications, said this morning, “I’ve just heard that the Yukon’s Status of Women Council is not appearing as a delegate at city council this evening. They’ve delayed their appearance for two weeks, so that council has time to review the report they produced. They are sharing it with council later this week.

“As a result, council members aren’t in a position to comment on it just yet,” Dolphin said.

Comments (19)

Up 5 Down 0

Ann on Jan 13, 2022 at 5:02 pm

I have one piece of advice for taking a cab in Whitehorse or anywhere else in Canada... never flag one over. Always phone, this way at least there will be a record and it is too hard to know if the driver actually reports the trip. 2nd. In whse, this isn't a new thing happening. 20 or so years ago, I called a cab and had to go from downtown to the Carcross cut off area. Half way there, the driver said in a matter of fact way, "there are other ways to pay for a fair". I said oh yeah, well when we get to my destination why don't you ask my boyfriend how he would like to pay you!". This was pre cell phones. I never took that company again.

Up 17 Down 0

Jayne W on Jan 13, 2022 at 10:04 am

I am from a town down South, pop about 30K give or take. Two cab companies are there. I can remember at a nursery school child my mom would order a cab, he would drop her off at work then take me to my nursery school. I remember him to this day, I was 4, no one worried for my safety and he treated me like one of his own. Years later I would still take cabs, short money I could pay next time. They knew when I had too much fun going out and make sure I was safe at home. They helped my grandmother in and out of the cab during errands, walked her to the door of her destination. My son needed a cab, no money, no problem they knew they would be paid one way or the other.
I grew up till I was 40 knowing the drivers, knew to ask about their kids and family, and they asked about mine. Last cab I took was before I left for here, the driver hugged me because I was leaving and wished me well. It's too bad that Whitehorse can't get that same hometown feeling with the drivers and customers. Don't paint all drivers with the same brush, a few bad apples can get weeded out eventually.

Up 22 Down 0

sacallison on Jan 12, 2022 at 4:55 pm

i recently had to call for a taxi, the operator dropped more than one Fbomb while taking down the address. I had to take one from the airport last week during -40, after waiting for over an hour for a ride, the taxi driver barked at me and my husband "Cash only!". We then had to argue with him to please bring us to a bank machine since we were planing to pay with Visa, at that point he had pulled over and was threatening to kick us out on the street. I did not feel safe and i was not alone or intoxicated. Not acceptable that in 2022 women cannot feel safe doing something simple like ride in a taxi!

Up 20 Down 1

Anie on Jan 12, 2022 at 3:26 pm

I would not feel safe taking a taxi in Whitehorse. At the same time, I would not feel safe driving a taxi in Whitehorse. What was recently a slightly rundown downtown on the brink, and showing hopeful signs, of revitalization has quickly, in the last few years, become a dangerous neighbourhood populated by scary people.

Up 12 Down 8

Mel on Jan 12, 2022 at 8:03 am

I think it is a very important consideration to all those critiquing this survey to consider that the respondents of the survey did so on their own volition and based on the results, many of the respondents exposed some very uncomfortable situations in which they were affected by GBV and were vulnerable. By spinning the narrative and suggesting that the survey questions invited a pre-determined outcome is not only perpetuating a culture that is inherently complacent about GBV but also having the opposite effect of the desired outcome of the survey which is to create spaces in which women feel safe reporting circumstances of GBV. All of those criticizing this survey should take a moment to consider how they would react were it their own daughters who were accosted/assaulted by cab drivers on their way home after a night at the bar.

Up 18 Down 9

Dave on Jan 11, 2022 at 6:07 pm

My roommate is a taxi driver here. So I know some info that most don’t. Let me voice his frustration here.
I’m going to start by addressing a comment here that said the vehicles are not mechanically fit to drive. Every cab in town has to undergo mechanical inspection every 6 months, and it has to be from Canadian tire, integra, Kal tire…

These drivers have to pay $500 a week for dispatch fee, plus they pay their own gas and any mechanical bills if their cars break down, they are left with peanuts at the end of the month.

This article is very biased and didn’t give the drivers a chance to speak for themselves. How many times a day they get ripped off? Harassed and abused? Two drivers were robbed and stabbed last year alone. Anyone cares about that? Granted there is a few bad apples, but that’s in every industry, so why generalize?

For the fellow who said he has many things to say but he’ll be labelled xenophobic or racist, perhaps you are? FYI drivers get fingerprint checks every year.

Up 32 Down 13

Two Sides on Jan 11, 2022 at 8:15 am

I wonder what a survey completed by taxi cab drivers would say about their customers?

Up 20 Down 11

Old Whitehorse Cabbie on Jan 10, 2022 at 10:40 pm

A good start would be to regulate conditions that make it easier to attract 50% female drivers so that female clients can easily access female-driven cabs.

Here's a few ideas that might lead to a more diverse taxi service:

1. Pay a good wage. Good money will attract good female drivers.
2. Provide fare subsidies. Collecting money from poor people is stressful and sometimes physically confrontational.
3. Legislate family-friendly hours. 8 hour days with an hour lunch and two half-hour coffee breaks.
4. Legislate lunch rooms with clean bathrooms.

In general - make it a government job, because the private sector just cannot afford it.

Up 28 Down 14

Max Mack on Jan 10, 2022 at 8:54 pm

174 respondents. Tiny sample. Not randomly selected. No clusters. Biased questions.
Survey design problems aside, seems to me this "report" and its underlying "survey" had a pre-determined outcome.

Up 39 Down 6

Mick on Jan 10, 2022 at 5:28 pm

I can’t believe most of those cars are on the road. Parts hanging underneath, no lights, smashed in body panels.
The drivers seemingly have zero concept of basic driving rules/laws.

I’d safely bet half those cars wouldn’t pass a safety check.

Up 15 Down 2

Peter Mulcahy on Jan 10, 2022 at 5:06 pm

I worked in the taxi industry for 5 years, my last year as a manager with Whitehorse and Yellow taxi.
Holy crap on a cracker.
Contact me please. Tim G

Up 28 Down 1

Nadine on Jan 10, 2022 at 4:43 pm

I suggest to walk in this town. I wonder what MADD thinks about this situation?

Their target is women under the influence- bottom line. I would rather walk and take my chances with a rogue bear or wolves as humans are a worse encounter.
Or, there is the bus which I enjoyed the grand tour of Whitehorse one night- if you call it a night by 10 pm.

Up 26 Down 28

Concerned non-binary on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:37 pm

I am concerned that the YSWC is picking fights where it's not needed. There not just trying to make a disagreement with the Whitehorse Star but also Whitehorse City Council. You can't expect to have your reports and studies received well if you make public forums like the ones I mentioned uneasy. You attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.
I have more issues with some of the projects YSWC is currently working on, but my comments can be misconstrued to mean something else. I hope I'm not the only one concerned about the actions of this publically funded (tax funded) NGO in regards to the issue.

Up 28 Down 43

Roxanne on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:33 pm

The problem is their survey was very biased and misleading if you actually read their questions. I understand where they’re coming from, but they are coming with fire and pitchforks for a few bad apples. I’ve had my share of bad and good taxi drivers, but I’ve also lived in another town where the bylaws are weak. The city has done an excellent job over the last decade enhancing the taxi bylaw. Give credit where credits is due.
Some jurisdictions don’t even require cameras in taxis and except for Whitehorse, I’ve never heard of another city that has required classes for taxi drivers before they can receive an approved taxi permit. Kudos to the city. We can always strengthen our bylaws, but a board with different members is a bit much and silly. You also cannot force a company to create a policy for their company or drivers. That’s creating a big brother type of situation where the government should not be interfering with the way someone runs their company.
The city doesn’t own these cab companies and does not have a say in how you run your day to day policy operations. I see court challenges ahead of that were to ever be entertained by the city. What’s going to happen is you’re going to have taxi companies fold and walk away if you over regulate. They don’t make enough money for that. Then instead of complaining about taxis, there will be less taxis to complain about. Taxi drivers might also just shut down and become an escort business instead….you pay them for their time, even if it means driving you somewhere…hence they are no longer a taxi cab!
Careful what you wish for. You should feel safe in a taxi and it is your choice to take a taxi. However there are also other alternatives like the bus, friends, walking, bikes, etc., if you really don’t feel that safe.

Up 44 Down 2

Sue Sez on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:31 pm

Surely a few blitz checks by taxi rides would help regulate taxi licenses. Yr after yr, 2017+, of reports- but no where to report problems ??

Up 67 Down 4

Observant on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:30 pm

I remember one day I was standing on Main Street and a group of families at the hotel needed to go to the airport. Taxi #1 pulls up first to pick up the families (I believe they were tourists) then taxi #2 comes along and claims taxi number #1 of “stealing his money” because he got to the family first. They both got out of their taxis to the point they are almost swinging at each other. Was super awkward for the families, obviously.

The locals know the taxis here are bad news. Stop supporting these companies.

Up 74 Down 8

COW at its finest on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:10 pm

We’re STILL having this conversation and the City STILL has done nothing? Gross. Good for you for continuing to bring this into the light. A shame that we’re still here though.

Up 79 Down 11

bonanzajoe on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:06 pm

I have a lot to say about the cabbies in Whitehorse, except it would be considered racist and some form of phobia and wouldn't be accepted by the WS. So, I have to remain silent.

Up 66 Down 5

Juniper Jackson on Jan 10, 2022 at 2:46 pm

All of the above, and the taxis stink. Do they ever get vacuumed and cleaned?

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