uber toronto

This is what it's like being an Uber driver in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic

Uber drivers are being forced to choose between their health and paying rent. 

Rizwan Rafiq has been a full-time Uber driver in Toronto for three years. He's completed over 11,000 trips, has a rating of 4.97 and is considered a Diamond Driver. He told blogTO that before the coronavirus pandemic hit he was making over $6,000 a month. 

"My income totally vanished overnight," Rafiq said. 

Last week he only made $147 and this week he didn't even bother driving.  

"With everyone self-isolating and everything closed there are no riders," he said.

But on top of that he's also concerned about the health and safety of himself and his family.

He told blogTO Uber had said they would send disinfectants to help keep their cars clean but those resources have yet to arrive. 

And while he's chosen to self-isolate for health and safety reasons, he's really worried about making rent and supporting his family. 

"I have a kid and a wife. My rent $1,400 and insurance is $600 and car payments [...] It's too much. I don't know how long it's going to be like this," he said. 

As a full-time driver he's dependent on Uber for his livelihood and while he knows that the government will provide up to $2,000 a month, that's still a substantial pay cut for him. 

"[Uber] is not doing anything to support their full-time drivers financially," he said. 

The Uber Canada website says the company will provide financial assistance for up to 14 days if they're diagnosed with COVID-19 or asked to self-isolate by a public health authority. 

This policy is subject to change.

"To ensure we are responsive to this reality, this policy is effective until April 6, 2020, at which time we will reassess the situation and release a go-forward policy," Uber says in a Q&A blog post on their website.

Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling added in an email: “We are always working to help keep everyone who uses Uber safe. We have a dedicated global team, guided by the advice of a consulting public health expert, working to respond in every market where we operate around the world.”  

But the statement offers little comfort to drivers like Rafiq. 

Lead photo by

Bailey Hall


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