Your ride-hailing driver could be getting paid just $6.37 an hour, a fraction of Ontario’s minimum wage, according to a new report that calls for legislated changes to stop gig workers from sliding further into poverty.
Failing to pay minimum wages to Toronto drivers is translating into huge windfalls for app companies, who are profiting to the tune of $200 million a year, the report called “Legislated Poverty,” by advocacy organization Ridefair, outlines.
“People can’t survive on this kind of thing,” said Earla Phillips, a ride-hail driver and vice-president of the Rideshare Drivers Association of Ontario, who said the study collected information directly from drivers using screen shots of their earnings.
“How do you pay your bills with that kind of money? You don’t,” Phillips said.
The figure, $6.37 per hour, was a median, meaning that half the drivers actually made less, and some lost money while working, said report author JJ Fueser with the Ridefair Coalition.
“Right now, Toronto drivers can and do make less,” she said.
Employees are entitled to a minimum wage under Ontario’s labour laws. However, drivers are classified as contractors, and don’t have the same protections.
That distinction is a falsehood in a job where the app decides nearly everything about what drivers are paired with which passengers, said Brice Sopher of Gig Workers United.
“I just came from a two-hour shift where I made $5.40. I can speak from experience that we’re facing a crisis,” said Sopher.
The report’s authors say their estimate is in line with others in California ($6.20 an hour), Seattle ($9.63 per hour), and Denver ($5.49 an hour).
Ride-hailing company Uber has said that Toronto drivers earned $33.35 per “engaged hour”, which is when they have a passenger, but doesn’t include when drivers are logged in and waiting for work.
That’s not a reasonable measure, said Fueser, because it doesn’t fairly represent the amount of time they are working.
“That number sounds good. In fact, it sounds roughly double the province’s minimum wage. But it’s not. It leaves out crucial information,” she said.
MPPs are discussing the issue in committee. The study authors are pushing the city to consider reinstating its cap on drivers, on the grounds that fewer drivers could mean each driver gets a greater share of the rides.
But a larger change would be to use legislation to classify the drivers as employees – a step that has already been taken in British Columbia, they said.
Another step that will be taken this week is for drivers in several Canadian cities to go on strike, Phillips said.