Inside the world of Toronto cabbies, not every cab is equal.
Asafo Addai has been fighting for two years against the City of Toronto’s taxi licensing policies, which he says have created a “two-tier” system that discriminates against minorities and newcomers. He takes his case against the city to the Human Rights Tribunal today.
“I have made an accusation that there is a racial discrimination in the city’s licensing policy that is unfair to racialized people,” said Addai, who has been driving a cab since 1998.
The issue stems from the existence of two different taxi licences: The standard plates and what many see as “inferior” ambassador plates. The standard plates give cabbies the option of renting out and selling their cab to others, increasing revenue and giving cabbies the option of selling their cars when they retire.
The ambassador plate — the only one the city now issues — allows only the owner to drive the taxi, forcing some drivers to be on the road for the maximum 12 hours a day to make ends meet. They aren’t allowed to sell the plates, and so make no revenue at retirement or death.
In the ’80s, the standard plate cost about $70,000. Now it can run upwards of $250,000.
Addai believes that allowing new cabbies — most of whom are minorities — to be issued only ambassador plates forces cabbies into a cycle of poverty.