NEWS
03/29/2019 22:12 EDT | Updated 03/29/2019 23:44 EDT

Quebec Taxi Industry Pauses Protests After Driver Self-Harms On TV

The focus needs to be on the mental health of taxi owners and drivers, said a spokesperson.

Canadian Press
Lynda Poirier of the suicide prevention centre responds to reporters questions as taxi industry spokesperson Abdallah Homsy reacts on Friday.

-Quebec's taxi industry suspended all pressure tactics over the province's proposed overhaul of taxi regulations after a member harmed himself on live television Friday.

An industry group said the decision was made after the dramatic incident at the end of an interview with a taxi owner on the LCN all-news network.

Appearing alongside a suicide prevention organization director at a news conference in Quebec City, taxi group spokesman Abdallah Homsy said the focus needs to be on the mental health of taxi owners and drivers.

"This morning, one of our distressed colleagues called out for help on television by trying to end his life," Homsy said. "I invite all my colleagues who are in mental distress, or friends and family who witness that distress, to seek out help."

Reforms under fire

Taxi drivers had been protesting all week in Montreal and Quebec City, claiming the government's proposed reforms will drive many of them into bankruptcy.

Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel last week tabled Bill 17 to modernize the province's taxi industry in response to ride-hailing applications like Uber.

The bill would get rid of a quota system that limits the number of taxis in each city, and drivers say it would render their permits worthless. The province is offering a total of $500 million to compensate permit-holders.

I invite all my colleagues who are in mental distress, or friends and family who witness that distress, to seek out help.Abdallah Homsy, spokesman

Bonnardel said in a statement Friday that he was very upset by the televised incident. He said he has been touched by testimonials from cab drivers and owners about the impact of the government bill.

He reiterated the importance of discussions between representatives of the traditional taxi industry and the province to ensure a "harmonious transition" and encouraged anyone in distress to seek help.

A Quebec City police spokesman said first responders quickly arrived at the television studio and transported the injured man to hospital. Homsy later tweeted that his colleague was doing better.

"But we must give him the time necessary for his convalescence," he wrote.

Are you in a crisis? If you need help, contact Crisis Services Canada at their website or by calling 1-833-456-4566. If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, visit CAMH's resource to learn how to talk about suicide with the person you're worried about.

Also on HuffPost: