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Provinces working to resolve new mother’s air ambulance bill

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Kendra Mangione, 

The Ontario and Alberta governments are working together to resolve a hefty bill handed to a mother after prematurely giving birth in northern Ontario.

Amy Savill, from High Prairie, Alta., was vacationing in Ontario last month when she unexpectedly went into labour two months before her due date.

Her family initially took her to a hospital in the northern Ontario city of Timmins, where she was told that staff were not equipped to handle births under 32 weeks. An air ambulance was arranged to take her to Sudbury, at an estimated cost between $10,000 and $30,000. Savill received the bill on Monday, but hasn’t disclosed the exact amount, saying only that “it’s in the thousands of dollars.”

Savill initially thought one of the provincial governments would pick up the tab, but she discovered she was on the hook for the cost of the pilots, paramedics, and the helicopter itself.

“My first concern is for the mom and the baby. I’m happy that both are doing well,” Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins told CTV Toronto at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

Hoskins said, when he first heard about the incident he asked his chief of staff to get in touch with the Alberta Ministry of Health.

“We’re working together to see how we might find a resolution,” Hoskins said.

He said he’s “hopeful” that Savill will not have to pay the bill.

Savill told CTV Northern Ontario that she’d heard from the office of the Alberta health minister since receiving the bill. She said the minister asked to see a copy of her bills, and told her that the ministry was working with Hoskins to find a solution.

“They haven’t guaranteed anything, but they wanted to at least take a look at it,” Savill said Wednesday.

For his part, Hoskins said Savill’s case will be raised at the next provincial and territorial meeting.

“It speaks to a bigger issue, a Canadian issue, of insuring that Canadians of any province or territory can have confidence when they travel throughout the country.”

Savill said the Alberta minister told her there may be some federal policy changes coming as a result of her case.

“We’re really proud to have brought that forward. I think they maybe weren’t even aware that it was an issue before,” Savill said, adding that she looks forward to telling the story to her newborn daughter when she grows up.

“Hopefully, one day she can look back and realize her crazy entrance into this world has brought some good change, so other people don’t have to go through this hard time that we’re having right now.”

Do Roundabouts and Traffic Circles Make You Dizzy?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Traffic CircleLove them or hate them, roundabouts and traffic circles are a fact of life for BC drivers. They slow traffic at intersections without stopping it, providing good throughput and increased safety. They are also environmentally friendly as idle time at intersections can be reduced or eliminated depending on traffic volume. All that is left for us to do, if my e-mail is any indication, is to learn to use them properly.

Since we drive around traffic circles counterclockwise, there is no need to signal as you approach. There is only one way to go and other traffic does not need to be notified. You do signal your intent to exit though as there are choices to be made by both you and the other traffic around you.

Yes, just as the sign shows, you must yield to other traffic already in the traffic circle before you enter it.

Are you being overtaken by an emergency vehicle using flashing lights and a siren? Pull over and stop before you enter the roundabout or continue to the nearest exit, clear the roundabout and then stop to let the emergency vehicle pass by.

Multiple lane roundabouts require planning before you enter them. If you intend to turn right or go straight through, enter in the right lane. If you intend to go straight through or turn left, enter in the left lane. ICBC advised that you must not change lanes in a multiple lane roundabout.

Reference Links:

How to Use Roundabouts – Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Tips for Roundabouts and Traffic Circles – BC Driving Blog
A Critical Look at Roundabouts – Institute of Transportation Engineers
Other Roundabout and Traffic Circle Articles on DriveSmartBC


Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Largely Recovered but “Vulnerable” Soft Tissue Injuries

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for injuries sustained in a collision.

In today’s case (Boysen-Barstow v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2011 collision caused by an unidentified motorist. ICBC accepted statutory fault for the collision.  The Plaintiff sustained various soft tissue injuries which enjoyed significant recovery but remained susceptible to aggravation.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 Mr. Justice Williams provided the following reasons:

25]         My conclusion is that the plaintiff sustained moderate soft tissue injuries in the accident, causing her neck and back pain and headaches. The headaches resolved within a few months, and the other physical discomfort gradually resolved to the point that, by taking appropriate care, Ms. Barstow was substantially pain free by the end of 2013. I accept that she has a certain vulnerability to back discomfort with prolonged sitting and that requires some management; that is a condition which has not fully resolved, although it is certainly not characterizable as an acute disability. It is a relatively minor artefact of the accident requiring some accommodation.

[26]         It follows that I am not fully able to accept the opinion of Dr. le Nobel as an accurate view of Ms. Barstow’s condition and prognosis. With respect, it simply does not accord with the substantial body of evidence that is before me.

[27]         As for the psychological aspect of the effects of the accident, the phobia experienced while travelling in a motor vehicle, both as a passenger and a driver, I accept that was, certainly initially, a problem that caused serious difficulties for the plaintiff. It contributed to her difficulties in carrying out her duties at work when she returned and was, I am sure, a factor in her decision to end that employment. However, I am also satisfied that by the time of trial, that has substantially resolved and whatever lingering unease she may have in an automobile is of a quite minor magnitude.

[28]         I accept the evidence of the plaintiff and Mr. Barstow that the plaintiff’s disposition and temperament was adversely affected to an extent by the accident, though that has diminished over time. I also acknowledge that the plaintiff’s marriage was, during that time, made more difficult as a result.

[29]         In terms of determining the appropriate quantum of damages to compensate the plaintiff for her pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life, the role of the court is to arrive at a sum which is fair to both the plaintiff and the defendant, and which provides a full and proper one-time compensation for all of the effects that have been caused by the defendants’ negligence—effects past, present, and future…

[35]         In my respectful view, when the circumstances are considered in their totality, together with the cases relied upon, the quantum of the award sought by the plaintiff is excessive. I find that an appropriate award for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life is $70,000.

The VW scandal could cost you $5,000

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015


Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn paid the price of losing his job after last week’s revelation that software designed to circumvent emission testing was installed on as many as 500,000 “clean diesel” vehicles sold in the U.S. and as many as 11 million worldwide.

VW has long burnished a reputation for producing fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly cars. But because of a trade-off in diesel cars between fuel efficiency and actual emissions, the company used a “defeat device” to cheat emissions tests, deceiving both regulators and consumers.

Criminal and civil courts in multiple countries for years will be sorting whether Winterkorn is simply falling on his sword or bears more direct responsibility. One thing for certain is that when the total cost is determined, Winterkorn and Volkswagen are not the only ones who will bear the burden of its employees’ actions.

 The ripples will spread far beyond its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, and the price tag borne by customers and suppliers could be staggering.

Costs to VW and its customers
The company stands to lose billions of dollars in the U.S. alone as a result of this deception, with EPA fines of as much as $37,500 per car potentially tallying $18 billion. The liability in regulatory fines could grow much larger as other regulators around the world get involved.

Volkswagen has itself set aside almost $8 billion for recalls, and its market value has already plunged almost $28 billion (about 30%). This puts a conservative estimate of the cost to Volkswagen and its shareholders in the vicinity of at least $54 billion, given fines outside the U.S. and lost sales that result from the scandal.

To the extent that consumers extrapolate Volkswagen’s breach of their trust beyond its “clean diesel” models, the impact on future sales could be devastating.

VW’s customers will likely end up losing out too, potentially through lost resale value.

Diesel technology has long held a fuel economy advantage over gasoline engines, yet older ones were much dirtier, emitting 500 parts per million of sulfur, a key source of particulate emissions. “Clean diesel” engines of the last decade are designed to emit 97% less sulfur emissions, and yet still get as much as 30% better fuel economy than comparable gasoline-powered engines. This gave the cars both a “green” image and a fuel-efficient one as well.

This led customers to pay more for a diesel car. But without that expected fuel efficiency, VW owners of “clean diesel” vehicles will incur lost resale value as high as $5,000 per vehicle. Adding up all the cars affected, that puts the potential loss in the neighborhood of $55 billion.

Class actions suits may recover some of that, but it’s not likely. In 1987, for example, Suzuki Samurai was a popular small on- and off-road vehicle selling at a premium to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price because of its popularity. When it was found to have an unsafe potential for rollover, resale value plummeted as much as 30% (I know, I had one!). While class action suits sought to recover the owner value of $2,000 to $3,500, courts ultimately rejected class action claims to recover those consumer losses.

What’s at stake for rest of the auto industry
Auto suppliers, too, will feel some pain. In today’s auto industry, best practice for supply chain management (SCM) includes just in time (JIT) delivery of parts to the auto manufacturers. A company like VW also buys the majority of each part from a single supplier.

Common sense (and a popular cliche) has long dictated that when faced with uncertainty, you “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The auto industry’s mantra, in light of SCM and JIT, might be summed up as: “Do put your eggs in one basket, but make sure it’s a darn good basket!”

But that has a cost. In 1996 and again in 1998, a few thousand workers at key GM GM -2.75% part suppliers decided to strike, resulting in almost 500,000 workers being laid off across the industry in a matter of only a few days.

In the 1996 incident, virtually all the GM assembly plants had put their demand for brakes in the “basket” of that single plant. As the assembly plants that used the brakes had to stop making cars, they stopped buying parts from their other first-tier suppliers (wheels, engines, fenders, etc). Then those suppliers stopped buying parts from their own suppliers (spark plugs, engine blocks, rubber), and they in turn stopped buying from their suppliers, and so on.

The implications of the increased trust in the “basket” go both ways. Now that all VW sales could be dramatically affected, the subsequent sales of their suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers could be affected as well. The increased reliance on single-source suppliers and lean inventory levels throughout the supply chain only increases the speed and relative severity of this impact on suppliers.

Most automakers outsource (or spend with suppliers) about 80% of the vehicle sticker price. Volkswagen sold about 10 million vehicles in 2014. Assuming an average sticker price of $30,000, VW reaped $300 billion in revenue.

If the 80% figure holds, its first-tier suppliers have $240 billion in revenue at stake. But assume that those suppliers spend 80% of their revenue with second-tier suppliers, the total impact could reach $432 billion. As this keeps building down the supply chain, the potential losses could be staggering were VW to implode.

While a complete implosion of VW is not likely, no one thought 3,000 striking workers in Dayton could idle 500,000 workers in a week’s time in 1996 either.

Who really pays the ultimate price
Winterkorn paid a high personal cost. VW and its shareholders will in all likelihood pay a very high monetary price for this breach of trust as well, especially if the fallout grows beyond the “clean diesel” models and consumers find it hard to trust the VW brand.

But unless the company does fall apart, eventually its stock will likely rebound, consumer trust will probably return and fines by the EPA and other regulators may be reduced and turn out to be less damaging than current estimates suggest.

The many others who put their trust in VW may not be so lucky, especially the 11 million people who owned the affected models, whose potential cost could easily match or exceed the direct hit to VW. And a recovery of much of that loss isn’t likely.

Meanwhile, suppliers with a significant business link to VW will be hit hard, as will the companies that supply them. Some of the impact will be softened when other car makers pick up the demand fleeing VW, but their supply chains were not likely expecting this either. They will bear the extra costs of ramping up production.

All in all, it’s important to remember that Volkswagen’s deception will affect more than just its balance sheet, and many people stand a good chance of losing their jobs as a result of unethical employees and poor corporate governance. Let’s hope that those responsible for assessing fines and assigning culpability remember that.

Questions and answers about Volkswagen’s emissions testing scandal

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

German automaker Volkswagen AG admits that it rigged North American emissions tests so it would appear that its diesel-powered cars were emitting fewer nitrogen oxides, which can contribute to ozone buildup and respiratory illness.

The crisis widened on September 22, 2015 as the company made the stunning admission that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with same cheating software.

Here are some questions and answers about the ongoing crisis:

WHICH VEHICLES DOES THIS AFFECT? Vehicles worldwide with Type EA 189 diesel engines. In the U.S., VW installed software in roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the U.S. since 2008, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The software turned on the cars’ full emissions control systems when the cars were being tested by the government, and then turned off those systems during normal driving. The Jetta, Beetle, Audi A3 and Golf from the 2009-2015 model years, as well as the Passat from the 2014-2015 model years. All have with 2-Liter, four-cylinder diesel engines. Volkswagen has halted the sale of 2015 models and is prohibited from selling 2016 models until they are fixed.

WHAT DOES VOLKSWAGEN SAY? Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn issued a statement Sunday saying that the company will fully co-operate with government investigations and has ordered an internal probe. Winterkorn said, “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.” The company said Tuesday it would set aside around 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the cost from the scandal.

WHY WOULD VOLKSWAGEN CHEAT ON EMISSIONS TESTS? Experts think VW may have wanted to avoid the cost of additional hardware to meet tough U.S. emissions standards, so it came up with a cheaper software fix. The software also would have helped the cars’ fuel economy numbers, since they get better gas mileage when the emissions control system is turned off.

WHAT SHOULD CUSTOMERS DO? Volkswagen will fix the cars for free as soon as it develops a remedy. Owners will be notified when there’s a fix. In the meantime, the cars are safe to drive. Car buying site cautions owners against selling the cars right now if they don’t have to, since they can expect a lower trade-in value.

DOES THIS AFFECT OTHER DIESEL VEHICLES IN NORTH AMERICA? Not so far. Thirteen brands currently offer diesels in North America., including Ram, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. West Virginia University, which conducted the tests that led to the discovery of Volkswagen’s software, said the BMW it tested passed.

WHAT’S NEXT? The U.S. government could fine Volkswagen $37,500 per vehicle for the violations, a total of more than $18 billion. The U.S. Justice Department, the California Air Resources Board and German authorities are also investigating. Winterkorn could also face scrutiny from Volkswagen’s board, which will meet as early as Wednesday. Investors have spoken. During the past two days, VW stock price has fallen more than 35 per cent.

Growing popularity of laneway homes raises questions about adequacy of insurance

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Soaring real estate costs are pushing some Canadian cities to embrace laneway housing, touted as the future of affordable living in urban centres.

But as the properties become more popular and balloon in value, questions are beginning to arise about whether current insurance practices are sufficient.

Home insurer Square One Insurance says it has been fielding so many recent calls about laneway homes _ most of them in Vancouver _ that it’s started offering a separate product created specifically for the structures.

Daniel Mirkovic, the company’s president and chief executive, says in the past, laneway homes or coach houses were often $50,000 conversions of detached parking garages created by homeowners to house their adult children.

“Now, because of the high price of real estate, the whole concept of laneway housing has changed,” Mirkovic said. “When you’re looking at a laneway home that the owners have invested $200,000 or $300,000 dollars to build, that’s a very significant investment.”

Converting a back alley parking garage into a residential structure is one way for homeowners to offset the cost of pricey real estate by generating rental income. However, not all Canadian cities allow for laneway homes to be built.

Vancouver is a notable exception. The city has issued over 1,000 permits for laneway homes since 2009. In Calgary, city officials are launching a pilot project that will allow laneway homes to be developed along one of the city’s streets.

As square footage in Canada’s hottest real estate markets becomes pricier and developers look for new ways to squeeze housing into tight spaces, laneway homes are likely to grow in popularity. That could force insurers to rethink their policies.

Currently, most insurance companies _ including Aviva Canada, Intact Financial and TD Insurance _ cover laneway homes under the same policy as the main property and don’t offer a separate insurance policy for the structures.

Mirkovic says that could be problematic in certain circumstances _ for example, if a natural disaster occurs that affects both the main structure and the laneway home. In the aftermath of such incidents, building replacement costs may soar due to a phenomenon referred to as “post-event inflation.”

In that situation, Mirkovic says, “the demand to build new homes or rebuild homes has gone up dramatically because there are thousands of people who need to rebuild their homes, and the supply is low. There’s only a certain amount of building supplies readily available; only a certain amount of contractors who can build homes.”

A home that cost $300,000 to build could cost $500,000 to rebuild. Typically, the insurance policy would cover the difference _ but in the case of a laneway home, it might not, Mirkovic says.

“If you’re insuring something as a detached structure you only get coverage up to the limit specified, which might be up to $300,000, but if it actually costs $400,000, you’re out of pocket for the extra,” Mirkovic said.

There could be drawbacks, however, such as two deductibles instead of one. In some instances, premiums may be higher as well, Mirkovic said.

Mike Shepel recently opted for Square One’s laneway housing package to insure a rental property he purchased in Vancouver. Knowing that replacement costs are guaranteed to be covered in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake provides him with security, Shepel said.

The physician said he plans to use the same product to insure his second rental property _ another laneway home _ as well.

“They’re really cute little places,” Shepel said. “It’s a unique way to get more homes into the community ? It really does feel like a small, little comfy cottage, where you feel more independent.”

Illegal Toker Or Legitimate Smoker? Marijuana-Smoking Employee Lawfully Dismissed

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Article by Kirsten D. Hume

McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Given the increasing availability and use of medical marijuana in British Columbia, employers are often faced balancing the need to ensure a safe workplace and an employee’s right to legitimate medical treatment. A recent decision of the BC Human Rights Tribunal gives employers some welcome clarity on the limits of the duty to accommodate, the nature of bona fide occupational requirements (“BFORs”), and the legality of “zero tolerance policies” regarding drug use on the job.

In French v. Selkin Logging, the Tribunal dismissed a complaint brought by Mr. French, a heavy equipment operator for a logging company.  Mr. French alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of disability by, among other things, not permitting him to smoke marijuana for pain management on the job.

Mr. French was treated for cancer in 2009 and returned to work in 2010.  It was widely known, including by his supervisor, that Mr. French was smoking marijuana on the job.  He and another employee shared six to eight joints a day during coffee and lunch breaks.

Mr. French’s supervisor only confronted him about his smoking after months of complaints from other employees and, more particularly, after Mr. French and a co-worker struck a moose with a workplace truck.  Marijuana was later found in the vehicle.  The supervisor told him that the company had a zero tolerance policy for drug use on the job; Mr. French later received a letter stating that his employment would be terminated unless he agreed to return to work “drug free”.

Mr. French asserted that he needed to smoke pot to manage his pain and that his physicians directed him to do so, as his cancer had recurred.  However, on probing this issue further, the Tribunal found that: he did not have a prescription; his doctors had not told him to smoke marijuana, and that there was no evidence that any doctor had condoned his smoking at work.  While the Tribunal could not determine whether the marijuana was “medical grade”, there was also no evidence that Mr. French was impaired on the job.

The Tribunal accepted that Mr. French was disabled, that he used marijuana for pain management, and had been terminated for using marijuana.

However, the Tribunal also found that the employer’s zero tolerance policy was a BFOR, even though it exceeded the minimum standard under occupational safety laws (which focus on impairment and endangerment at the workplace, rather than setting a zero tolerance rule).

First, the zero tolerance policy was created for safety reasons and properly linked to the performance of Mr. French’s job.  Second, it was adopted in the honest belief that it was necessary.  Third, it was reasonably necessary: the employer could not accommodate Mr. French’s smoking without undue hardship.

Because Mr. French’s marijuana use was not authorized, and thus illegal, it could not be treated like other medications.  Although there was no evidence that Mr. French was impaired or posed any danger, that did not mean the zero tolerance policy was unreasonable or unnecessary.  The employer’s delay in enforcing the policy did not preclude it from enforcing it later.  Further, Mr. French had not informed his employer of his need to smoke or otherwise facilitated the accommodation process.

In the circumstances, the requirement for reasonable accommodation did not require the employer to abet Mr. French’s smoking marijuana at work.

Key takeaways

The French decision highlighted several important points for employers:

  1. It may be within employers’ legitimate management rights to impose a general rule prohibiting the consumption of drugs or alcohol at the workplace, especially where workplace safety is of particular concern. On the other hand, policies that rely on strict application of a zero tolerance rule, without considering accommodation in individual circumstances, may offend the Code if, for example, an employee is legitimately using marijuana for medical purposes.
  2. A zero tolerance policy should not be found unreasonable simply because an employee has not shown signs of impairment or inability to work safely.
  3. Where an employee is using drugs such as marijuana on the job without proper authorization, or without disclosure to the employer, a court or tribunal may be less likely to find an employer’s refusal to permit such drug usage to contravene the Code.
  4. An employer’s delay in enforcing a drug policy will not necessarily preclude later enforcement (although it is preferable to administer policies promptly and consistently).
  5. The duty to accommodate is subject to reasonable limits, and does not rest solely on the employer. Employees must facilitate accommodation, and their failure to do so may result in their complaints being dismissed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

Canadians who love Uber love Uber a lot!

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Canadians who love Uber love Uber a lot, praising the low fares, the ease of hailing a cab with an app, the ability to review drivers’ profiles and ratings before getting in a car and not having to carry cash to pay.

 Yet not everybody loves how the San Francisco-based ride-sharing service is reshaping the transportation sector in the cities where it has set up shop. The UberX service empowers anyone over 21 with licence and a car in “excellent condition” to pick up passengers for money after a background check that can take just three days.

Obviously, licenced cab drivers, fearful of their livelihoods, have been the most vocal opponents, waging protests in cities ranging from Toronto and Montreal to São Paulo and Copenhagen, and launching a class action lawsuit over lost income. But it’s not just taxi drivers who are worried. Critics have a long list of concerns about how Uber does business, whether its practices are fair and whether it’s safe for consumers. The sweet deal passengers think they’re getting may be offset by potential risks down the road.

 “The public is not fully aware of what’s happening and how they’re playing by their own rules,” says Jim Karygiannis, the Toronto city councillor who has been sounding the alarm about Uber since he was elected last year. “Can you be an Uber doctor, can you be an Uber teacher, an Uber chef or do Uber liquor delivery? You can’t make pizza in the back of your car and take it over to anybody who calls you. There are standards you’ve got to meet.”

A new survey by Harris Poll (on behalf of Toronto’s Beck Taxi, so take it with a grain of salt) found that among people who are familiar with UberX, most say it should be subjected to the same requirements as existing taxi services, including police background checks for drivers (87 per cent), commercial insurance that protects drivers (89 per cent) and riders (86 per cent) and regular vehicle maintenance (88 per cent). About 58 per cent of respondents familiar with UberX said the company currently meets these standards.

 The lack of clarity about what Uber is, and what its obligations are, makes it difficult to point fingers and assign responsibility if problems arise. Is it a transportation company? A software company? A booking service? A sophisticated bulletin board? Are the UberX drivers employees or owner/operators? These questions are important because they have implications for insurance, taxation, security, safety standards and quality assurance. About 75 per cent of people surveyed in the Harris Poll viewed Uber as a taxi service more than as a technology company, ride-sharing company or mobile app provider.

Karygiannis suggests Uber benefits from all this fuzziness since it makes it hard for government to apply existing laws. The company has said drivers are responsible for collecting GST or HST, but Karygiannis says Uber does not ensure that happens.

“They have shown no respect for laws, rules and regulations, he wrote in an open letter this month, “and even if we ask for compliance, they will find ways to go around these requests.”

 This alleged lawlessness has prompted Uber opponents in places like Sydney Australia, to try to makecitizen’s arrests of Uber drivers, though police officers have shown little interest in getting involved. Of course, sometimes laws are bad and unnecessary, but in many cases they prevent harm from happening and when problems do happen, ensure that victims have proper recourse. “Sooner or later, there’s going to be a really bad incident and this is all going to unravel,” says John Papadakis, a Toronto paralegal and former city council candidate who thinks the city should be cracking down on ride sharing.

Although Uber has claimed that its Canadian drivers are covered by insurance, the company is currently negotiating with Intact, one of Canada’s largest auto insurance providers, to come up with a specific ride-sharing product. To critics, this move suggests that currently available insurance policies don’t cover what Uber is doing.

Uber pushed out of some cities but continues to compete with traditional cabs in others

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

CBC News

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the city has sped up the taxi bylaw review and expects a full report to be available by the end of December.

Outside consultant KPMG is expected to review fare structures, and could recommend ways to regulate, rather than ban, Uber, which currently disregards Ottawa’s licensing and insurance regulations.

The Uber app allows passengers to book a ride, track it in real time on a GPS map and does away with the exchange of cash by requiring automatic credit card payment.

The City of Ottawa maintains that Uber is illegal, and continues to target drivers in time-consuming and resource-intensive undercover stings in order to charge them.

Since Uber began operating in Ottawa in October 2014, 142 charges have been laid against 64 drivers. So far, 56 drivers have pleaded guilty to 112 charges, with fines totaling nearly $40,000, according to the City of Ottawa.

Uber has been banned or pushed out of some Canadian cities but continues to compete with traditional, regulated cabs in others.

Here’s a roundup of the response to Uber across the country.

Kitchener-Waterloo Region

Kitchener-Waterloo became the first municipality in Ontario to propose regulating ride sharing services, like Uber. The new bylaw would require all Uber drivers to have a GPS and closed circuit television system, as well as commercial auto insurance policies for a minimum of $2 million to qualify for an auxiliary taxi driver licence.


A City of Toronto staff report up for debate today calls for a new licensing category that would allow ride-hailing services, such as Uber to operate, but taxi industry leaders continue to argue that would mean the “death of the industry.”

Under the new licence, Uber drivers would have to buy a permit, carry insurance, undergo a background check and ensure their vehicle is safe. The report also recommends that base taxi fares be dropped by $1 to $3.25 to make traditional cabs more competitive.


The City of Edmonton has plans to legalize Uber with new regulations — but Uber drivers say the move would drive them out of business due to high costs. Uber drivers say the cost of criminal record checks, vehicle inspections, licence applications and commercial insurance would be about $6,800 a year.

Public hearings were scheduled at Edmonton City Hall today as Uber drivers planned to hold a rally outside.


The taxi industry in Vancouver successfully fought the relaunch of Uber last year. Uber operated in Vancouver for about six months in 2012 but stopped operations after the provincial transportation regulator imposed a minimum fare of $75 per trip. Now taxi drivers there have launched their own eCab app that allows passengers to hail a cab and pay for it on their smartphone.


Uber was forced to stop operating after a brief time in Calgary in 2014. Calgary taxi companies joined other Canadian taxi companies in a campaign called Taxi Truths with the goal of detailing the differences between regulated and illegal cabs.

A Plaintiff Not Recovering Insufficient To Allow Late Defence Medical Exam

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that a Plaintiff’s failure to recover from injuries is not enough for a Defendant to secure a late defence medical exam.

In today’s case (Dzumhur v. Davoody) the Plaintiff was injured in a a collision and sued for damages.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff served an expert report opining that the Plaintiff ought to recovery provided the injuries are responsive to recommended treatments.  The Defendant did not obtain a defence medical report and as the deadline approached for exchange or expert evidence the Plaintiff served an updated report suggesting the Plaintiff’s prognosis was poor.  The Defendant argued they ought to be entitled to a late exam in these circumstances but the Court disagreed noting the defence should have been alive to this possibility earlier.  In dismissing the requested late exam Master Muir provided the following reasons:

[13]         Further, I am not satisfied that the defendants can properly say they shall have been truly taken by surprise by the medical condition of the plaintiff. Dr. Caillier’s initial report was in 2013. It is couched in careful terms that said in essence: provided the plaintiff responds to the treatments prescribed, he should fully recover. Well, that is the very nub of the matter: will he or will he not respond to the treatments? Did he or did he not respond to the treatments? Obviously Dr. Caillier’s second report indicates that he did not

[14]         The defendant then had an opportunity to discover the plaintiff in May of this year, two weeks before the plaintiff saw his doctor. At the discovery, I am advised it was evident that the plaintiff was still playing soccer, but counsel was not able to say whether the plaintiff claimed to be pain free.

[15]         There is no basis that I can see on the evidence for the assertion that the second report of Dr. Caillier took them or should have taken them, perhaps more to the point, completely by surprise. The possibility existed that the treatments would not be successful. The defendant must be seen to have chosen to accept that risk without obtaining an IME before the 84-day deadline.

[16]         One of the important factors in these cases, as noted in Timar at para. 21, is whether the party can claim to be truly surprised by the condition of the plaintiff. Here it is my view that that is not the case. There is nothing that satisfies me that Dr. Bishop cannot do a responsive report to the report of Dr. Caillier without a complete IME of the plaintiff. As a result, the application is dismissed.