Taxi drivers

Renewed calls for improved security after two taxi drivers were arrested in separate incidents

WINNIPEG-

There are new calls to ensure the safety of Indigenous women taking taxis in Winnipeg.

Two drivers were arrested this month and now face charges in two separate incidents with passengers.

There are measures in place but some wonder if it is enough.

“It is now up to the government to enact and implement the Calls for Justice and I believe that if this is not done these incidents will continue,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

Settee talks 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 public transit services for women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender people various.

Just last week, Winnipeg police arrested a 44-year-old Unicity taxi driver who faces assault and forcible confinement charges after a 19-year-old woman said she was assaulted during of a taxi ride.

A 51-year-old taxi driver from Duffy was arrested on Wednesday after a woman trying to retrieve her phone in a taxi was dragged by the vehicle as it accelerated as she clung to the exterior of the car from the passenger door. Duffy’s said the company suspended the driver after viewing video of the incident.

“No Indigenous woman should be subjected to such trauma and abuse and we need to hold these taxi companies accountable and there need to be systems in place to ensure their safety,” Settee said.

Grant Heather, director of rental vehicles for the City of Winnipeg, said when a driver is charged with a relevant criminal offense or a major driving violation, a license review is conducted to determine next steps.

“There are options available on what to do and so each case is really looked at individually, depending on what happened, what factors played into it,” Heather said. “It’s really a due process type scenario.”

Heather said the city is always looking for ways to improve and ensure the safety of all users of the vehicle rental system.

“We are still in discussion,” Heather said. “We’re always looking for ideas, whether it’s training or additional training. »

He pointed to recent improvements, including mandatory audio recording to accompany cameras located in all taxis.

“Things like that really add to driver and passenger safety because it gives you a real feel for things that are happening,” Heather said.

Neither Duffy’s nor Unicity responded to requests for on-camera interviews Friday on calls for improved security within the industry.

None of the allegations against any of the drivers arrested this month have been tested in court.