Troubling report shows Toronto ride-share drivers earn less than half minimum wage

A troubling report released on Monday reveals that Toronto’s ride-hail drivers earn an average of $6.37 per hour after expenses related to using a personal vehicle are accounted for — well below Ontario’s minimum wage of $16.55. 

According to the report, released by RideFairTO and the Rideshare Drivers Association of Ontario, ride-hail drivers in the city collectively lose up to $200 million a year as a result of earnings below the province’s hourly minimum wage floor. 

The advocacy groups used company-provided figures, historical City data, as well as 96 snapshots of weekly pay statements submitted by Toronto ride-hail drivers between October 2023 and January 2024. 

After estimated expenses are taken into account, the report says that none of the weekly pay statements submitted reached the province’s minimum hourly wage and in many cases, drivers reportedly lost money. 

In the past, ride-hailing service company, Uber, has called RideFairTO’s inaccurate, reporting that in late 2023, median driver earnings in Toronto were $33.35 per “engaged hour,” which equates to the time a driver spends driving or delivering orders, with tips excluded. 

“Uber, for its part, has responded to mounting reports of driver poverty by proposing a new minimum wage for gig workers, set at 120 per cent of existing minimum wage rates but only applying to engaged time. It sounds attractive but changes nothing: by failing to account for the cost of driving or engagement rates, this policy leaves gig workers without a wage floor at all,” the report reads. 

“Taking typical engagement rates and costs for Toronto drivers into account, we estimate that Uber’s proposed ‘120 per cent of minimum wage for engaged time’ translates into an average hourly minimum wage of (at best) $2.50,” the groups argued. 

“The term ‘engaged hour’ is a company invention. It could easily be interpreted to mean on-app time. It is unclear what expenses, if any, are considered. In the rare instances where the company defines engaged time for Toronto drivers, the company has not to our knowledge estimated how much time the average (or median) driver spends engaged, making this figure uninformative.” 

The report also notes that in eight years, the supply of vehicles-for-hire — which includes taxi plus ride-hailing drivers — has increased from a ratio of one driver per 500 residents to a ratio of one driver per 45 residents. 

Despite this, ride-hail drivers are not considered employees under the province’s labour laws, meaning they are not entitled to minimum wage or other benefits such as sick days. 

Troubling report shows Toronto ride-share drivers earn less than half minimum wage

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Kimia Afshar Mehrabi

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