Toronto taxi drivers feel marginalized, victimized and make about $3 an hour, according to a new report due out Wednesday.

The report, put together by two university professors and a law student, claims drivers who lease a car from a taxi cab owner work about 77 hours a week and make on average $3.44 an hour.

Shift drivers, who pay a garage or a lease driver a rental fee to drive a taxi also work about 77 hours a week but make only $2.83 an hour.

"You can't make a living like this, you barely break even," one taxi driver told CTV Toronto.

The report says there are about 10,000 taxi drivers working in Toronto, the vast majority of whom are immigrants.

The study found that drivers felt they were vulnerable to physical and verbal abuse and received little support from police.

"The combination of poverty wages, stressful work, and very little family time affects not only the drivers but also the families they support," the authors say in a news release about their findings. "These preliminary findings make an important contribution to the growing evidence around the racialization of poverty in Toronto."

The report says that low hourly wages force cabbies to stay on the road to earn extra money. The drivers don't often go on holidays and rarely call in sick which takes a toll on their personal life and overall health.

One driver said few of his colleagues expect to live beyond 55.

The report also highlights safety concerns for drivers as it found drivers are often racially targeted.

Jim Bell, from Diamond Taxis doesn't deny driving a cab in the city is a tough job, but he says the numbers are exaggerated.

"You couldn't live in Toronto on those wages," he said. "We wouldn't be able to keep drivers from year to year to year that make a career of it."

One driver said business goes up and down but when it's bad, he has seen his wages dip to $3 an hour.

"We are earning nothing... just killing ourselves out there sometimes," said Mohammad Ayaz.

Drivers who work for Ambassador Taxi make closer to $6.49 an hour while lease drivers with the company make an hourly wage of $8.81 an hour.

The findings are based on a survey of Toronto taxi drivers that was carried out between November 2006 and October 2007.

The report made several recommendations including:

  • Forming a drivers' association which is recognized by the City
  • Requiring brokerages and plate owners to negotiate collectively with drivers about fees and terms
  • Moving lease and shift drivers to owner-operator and/or employee status

With a report from CTV Toronto's Alicia Kay-Markson