There are renewed calls to ensure the safety of aboriginal women who take 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.
“The onus is now on the government to enact and implement the Calls for Justice and I believe if that 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 transit and transportation services for women, girls, Two-Spirit people and of various kinds.
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 the ‘a taxi ride.
A 51-year-old Duffy’s Taxi driver was arrested on Wednesday after a woman trying to retrieve her phone from a taxi was dragged by the vehicle as it pulled away as she clung to the exterior 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 subjected to such trauma and violence and we must hold these taxi companies accountable and systems must be in place to ensure their safety,” Settee said.
Grant Heather, Manager of Rental Vehicles for the City of Winnipeg, said that when a driver is charged with a relevant criminal offense or major driving violation, a license review is done 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, the factors that 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 car rental system.
“We’re still in discussion,” Heather said. “We’re always on the lookout for ideas, whether it’s training or further training.
He highlighted 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 sense of what’s going on,” Heather said.
Neither Duffy’s nor Unicity responded to requests for on-camera interviews on Friday about calls for improved safety in the industry.
None of the allegations against any of the drivers arrested this month have been tested in court.