Renewed calls for improved safety after two taxi drivers arrested in separate incidents
There are renewed calls to ensure the safety of Indigenous women taking taxis in Winnipeg.
Two drivers have been arrested this month and now face charges in two separate incidents with passengers.
There are measures in place but some wonder if it’s enough.
“It is now incumbent upon the government to enact and implement the Calls to Justice and I think if that is not done these incidents will continue,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.
Settee is talking about the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which calls on governments to ensure safe and affordable transit and transportation services for women, girls, two spirit and gender diverse people.
Just last week Winnipeg police arrested a 44-year-old Unicity Taxi driver who faces charges of assault and forcible confinement after a 19-year-old woman said she was assaulted during a cab ride.
On Wednesday, a 51-year-old Duffy’s Taxi driver was arrested after a woman trying to retrieve her phone from a cab was dragged by the vehicle as it sped off while she clung to the outside of the car from the passenger door. Duffy’s said the company suspended the driver after reviewing video of the incident.
“No Indigenous woman should be subject to such trauma and violence and we need to hold these taxi companies accountable and there have to be systems in place to ensure that they are safe,” Settee said.
Grant Heather, the City of Winnipeg’s manager for vehicles for hire, said when a driver is charged with a relevant criminal offence or a major driving offence a licensing review is held to determine next steps.
“There’s options available on what to do and so each case is really looked at individually, based upon what has occurred, what factors played into it,” Heather said. “It’s very much a due process type scenario.”
Heather said the city is always looking at ways to improve and ensure the safety of all users of the vehicle for hire system.
“We’re always in discussion,” Heather said. “We’re always looking for ideas – whether it’s training or additional education.”
He pointed to recent improvements, including mandatory audio recording to go with the cameras located in all taxis.
“Things like that really add to the safety of both drivers and passengers because it gives you a real sense of the things that occur,” Heather said.
Neither Duffy’s nor Unicity responded to requests for on camera interviews Friday on the calls for safety improvements within the industry.
None of the allegations against either of the drivers arrested this month have been tested in court.
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