Five cabbies have been caught by the city using fake credentials to obtain a taxicab driver’s licence, according to documents obtained by the Sun.
The city’s by-law department sent a letter to each driver last month, advising them to hand in their permits.
“And so far, only two of the five have returned their licences,” said Coun. Mark Taylor, chairman of the community and protective services committee.
“But we have confirmed with all of the taxi brokers that they have been blacklisted there, so they can’t drive a taxi in Ottawa.”
Legitimate cab drivers spend around $1,000 to take a one-month course at Algonquin College where customer service, area knowledge, and accessible taxicab training are covered.
The handful of scammers were busted after properly licensed drivers told bylaw officials some drivers had submitted fraudulent documents.
“Over the summer, we assigned a student to go through every active driver file and double check the docs,” said Taylor.
“During that process, we identified the five whose transcripts didn’t appear to be genuine, and contacted Algonquin College, who confirmed they never took the course.”
Bylaw officials met each of the drivers to explain the findings, where they were given a chance to bring in their genuine transcripts.
“None of them actually did,” said Taylor.
Taxi union president Amrik Singh declined to comment.
Drivers also have to submit an abstract from the ministry of transportation, and a police records check.
“We’ve never had an issue with those documents being falsified before,” said Taylor.
Regardless, this incident is changing the way the city handles taxicab licensing with Algonquin College.
“We’ve reinstated the old practice, so the college now will send us the transcripts directly, as well as the photo of the person who successfully completed the course,” said Taylor.
Bylaw has informed cops about the cases of fraud, and the cabbies could be charged.
“It’s up to the Ottawa Police Service, what the appropriate charge to lay would be,” said Taylor.
The reputation of the good cab drivers, he said, shouldn’t be ruined by a handful of bad apples.
“We receive far more compliments than we do complaints about the taxi service in Ottawa,” said Taylor.
“The folks who drive the taxis — it’s a pretty thankless job — but they do some fantastic work.”
TAXI DRIVER TRAINING ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS
– must be at least 19 years old
– hold a valid G class Ontario driver’s licence or a 5 class Quebec driver’s licence
– pass the mandatory English language assessment
Source: Algonquin College