An impending bylaw in the Town of Strathmore will require taxi drivers to undergo criminal record checks and be trained in first-aid but officials with the three local cab companies say the cost of the programs will be passed on to the customers.

The Town of Strathmore’s new taxi bylaw, which was to go into effect on January 31 but has been postponed to February 23, includes the following requirements:

  • Taxi drivers must have a criminal record check
  • Taxi drivers must obtain a basic first aid certificate
  • Taxi vehicles must pass a vehicle inspection

Infractions will carry a $500 fine and the drivers had a year to complete the courses and inspections.

Martin Deputer, the owner of Strathmore Taxi, says the cab companies will be forced to raise rates to cover the associated costs of the program and the increase will hurt the town’s most vulnerable residents.

“What are you doing to the seniors? What are you doing to the handicapped? It’s the taxis that carry that load. They discount them. It comes out of the owner’s pocket not out of the town’s pockets.”

The Strathmore Taxi owner predicts the discounts that had been offered to seniors will disappear in short time.

Deputer says he has concerns regarding the liability of drivers should they perform first aid and says it’s an unfair expectation to place on drivers.

Mayor Pat Fule says the concerns are without merit. “We’re not expecting the taxi drivers to be EMS,” said Fule. “If they’re trying to help someone and they go through all the correct steps, they’re not going to be liable.”

Fule adds that ensuring first aid trained staff are on site is a common requirement in many companies, schools and stores.

“We felt, because the taxi drivers are alone in their workplace with their customers, that having basic first aid would be one more thing to ensure that our residents are safely transported in-and-around town.”

Fule says the bylaw changes were in response to complaints regarding safety and cleanliness and the town is waiving the taxi driver permit fee to offset the cost of a driver’s first aid course.

“We feel we’ve offered a great deal here and it’s meeting them more than halfway especially with the fact they’ve had a year.”

Deputer says the taxi drivers are unlikely to comply with the new requirements. “We’re going to defy the Town. We’re going to make them smarten up.”

Strathmore bylaw officers will be out in force on February 23 when the changes go into effect.

With files from CTV’s Stephanie Wiebe