BC caps restaurant delivery fees

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by Emily Atkins

Restaurant and bar owners in BC can look forward to permanent support for the cap on fees charged by food-delivery companies.

“As the costs of food and labour rise worldwide, B.C. restaurants need to be supported to ensure prices are affordable and that delivery companies aren’t charging unfair fees,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “By introducing legislation allowing us to convert the delivery fee cap from temporary to permanent, we are able to provide more certainty to the sector and to delivery drivers.”

In December 2020, the Province introduced a temporary cap on fees charged to restaurants by food-delivery companies under the Emergency Program Act and transitioned to the COVID-19 Related Measures Act when the provincial state of emergency was lifted in June 2021. The measure also prohibits delivery companies from reducing driver compensation, making sure employees and contractors continue to be paid their wages and gratuities.

Adam Walker, Parliamentary Secretary for the New Economy, is leading the development of a strategy to address the challenges facing gig workers in B.C., including food-delivery drivers.

As many restaurants and bars needed to increase their reliance on food-delivery companies to serve their customers early in the pandemic, the temporary 15% cap on food and 5% cap on additional fees were introduced in response to fees as high as 30% being charged to restaurants.

The cap, which was extended in September and December 2021, is set to expire Dec. 31, 2022.

The BC government has introduced legislation allowing a permanent fee cap, which would limit the fees that core-services delivery companies can charge restaurants to no more than 20% of the dollar value of an order.

“Transforming the temporary delivery fee cap into a permanent model is a game changer for the recovery of our industry and setting restaurants up to be able to thrive in the future,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO, BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “We want to thank government for listening to our concerns over these fees and continuing to take action to support our industry through these challenging times.”

If passed, this legislation will be an addition to government’s ongoing supports for the industry. This includes the ability of bars and tourism operators with liquor licences to purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale prices permanently and the authorization of thousands of Temporary Expanded Service Areas, helping businesses weather the pandemic and serve more patrons while complying with health orders.

“We do a lot of business through the delivery apps, so bringing in a permanent fee cap gives me a huge sense of relief,” said Kelsey McInnes, general manager, Virtuous Pie in Victoria. “Knowing that our delivery fees will remain constant going forward will help us keep costs down for our customers.”