An open letter from some of BC’s technology workers

As tech workers and tech users, we share an interest with many British Columbians in seeing on-demand ride services like Uber become part of the range of transportation options in our province. Our experience in the tech sector gives us a distinct perspective on the wide range of peer-to-peer, on-demand and sharing services that will be knocking on BC’s doors in the coming years.

Many of us have more in common with the people who end up working for or using peer-to-peer services than we do with the business owners and venture capitalists who stand to gain from opening BC’s market overnight. And we recognize that doing so would cost British Columbians our one opportunity to shape the way peer-to-peer services transform BC’s economy, so that this change benefits as many people as possible — not just the people creating the apps and the investors funding them.

We want on-demand services that fuel innovation, job creation and the tech sector in BC, and it isn’t clear how services that send 20% of every transaction back to Silicon Valley investors accomplish that. We want affordable housing for British Columbians, instead of housing prices driven up by people buying Airbnb investment properties. We welcome the flexible work opportunities that are enabled by peer-to-peer services, but we want that work to provide a living wage and decent benefits. We want the convenience of on-demand services ourselves, but not at the cost of fundamental fairness and safety for workers and consumers.

That’s why we call on the province to invite on-demand ride services into the province with a set of policies that provide benefits for all — and to do it on a timetable that permits genuine public engagement to ensure the most effective and widely supported approach possible. We ask the province to:

  • Recognize workers who provide peer-to-peer services as employees, with the rights and benefits that go with employee status.
  • Offer incentives to support made-in-BC solutions, and to support tech companies that open offices and create jobs here.
  • Regulate on-demand drivers and vehicles to protect public safety and access to service.
  • Encourage and invest in a range of transportation options, including car sharing, bike sharing and public transit, so that on-demand rides are part of a larger strategy to reduce the environmental and social impact of car ownership.
  • Develop a provincial strategy for the on-demand and sharing economy to address not only taxation, regulation and employment standards but also opportunities for fuelling innovation, economic development, and local jobs.

Asking that on-demand services operate in a way that reflects BC’s environmental and social commitments isn’t going to hurt the growth of the tech sector. On the contrary: those are the values that have inspired much of our tech innovation and business success. We have the opportunity to learn from the experience of other jurisdictions — both the benefits and the pitfalls — and it would be foolhardy not to take it.

Making the sharing economy a reality isn’t about opening our doors to just any company or industry that wants to profit in BC’s market. It’s about making BC a place in which the benefits of this new generation of services are truly shared: by entrepreneurs, by workers and by all British Columbians.

Signed by:

  • Aaron Pettigrew, Social Media Consultant, Vancouver
  • Alexandra Samuel, Tech researcher & strategist, Vancouver
  • Andrew Eisenberg, Technical Lead, Ganchrow Scientific, Vancouver
  • Angela Crocker, Technical writer & instructor, Vancouver
  • Dan Udey, Software Developer, Vancouver
  • Darren Barefoot, Co-Founder, Capulet Communications, Vancouver
  • Jodi Stark, Digital engagement specialist, Vancouver
  • Jordan Lewin, Founder & CEO, Digital Sparks Media, Vancouver
  • Kim Werker, Writer, Vancouver
  • Mack Hardy, Founder, Affinity Bridge, Vancouver
  • Maria Lantin, Director, Stereoscopic 3D Centre at Emily Carr University, Vancouver
  • Michael Roy, Former Digital Director, Canada’s NDP, Vancouver
  • Monique Sherrett, Founder, Boxcar Marketing, Vancouver
  • Phillip Djwa, CEO and Creative Director, Agentic Digital Media, Vancouver
  • Rob Cottingham, Communications Strategist, Vancouver
  • Susanna Haas Lyons, Civic Technologist, Fraser Valley
  • Theodora Lamb, Conference & Community Organizer, East Vancouver
  • Tris Hussey, Digital Marketer and Author, Pitt Meadows
  • Vanessa LeBourdais, Interactive digital producer, Port Moody
  • Brenton Walters, Civil Communications
  • Tylor Sherman & Todd Sieling, Denim & Steel Interactive
  • Arthur Maughan, Media Professional, Vancouver
  • Kris Klaasen, President and Art Director, Working Design
  • Adrian Crook, Adrian Crook & Associates, Downtown Vancouver
  • Jennifer West, artistic director of @Muzewest, Vancouver
  • Fernando Medrano, video game designer, Vancouver
  • Grace Lau, Copywriter, Vancouver
  • Shane Gibson, Author and Professional Speaker, Vancouver
  • Brad Dolman, Entrepreneur, Vancouver
  • Michael Boronowski, Co-founder of The Potentiality/Civic Engagement Professional, Mission
  • Derek Bolen, Communications Manager, Coquitlam
  • Stephen Hui, Technology Writer, Vancouver
  • Ian Robertson, Designer @ Artitect.us, Olympic Village, Vancouver
  • Don Ambridge, Founder, GetCranial.com
  • Paul S. Gill, Definitive Signage, Vancouver
  • Mark Busse, Co-Founder, Industrial Brand and Director of Creativity & Engagement, HCMA Architecture + Design
  • Alex Alexandrov, CEO & Co-Founder Coinpayments.net
  • Chet Woodside, product manager
  • Mike Bocking, Unifor Local 2000, Media Union of BC
  • Sean Hagen, Web Developer, Bardel Entertainment
  • Selena McLachlan, Marketing and Business Development Director at Modo
  • Paul Ramsey, Open Source Developer, Carto

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