B.C. extends cap on meal delivery fees another year

Fees charged to restaurants capped at 20%

Doordash worker delivering food | Photo: Chung Chow, BIV

The province is once again extending the cap on fees charged to restaurants that have become increasingly reliant on meal delivery services amid the pandemic.

The cap was introduced last year and was previously renewed back in late September 2021 and was set to expire December 31. The cap is now being extended for one more year.

Delivery services such as Uber Eats and Skip The Dishes will be capped at charging a 15% fee for delivery and 5% on processing fees.

The latter cap was needed to ensure delivery fees weren’t being shifted to other costs after some services tried side-stepping the new measures last year.

“In my opinion, 20% is still too high but at least it will allow restaurants to earn some profit on delivery sales,” Kelvin Lum, director of finance for the White Spot chain, said during Friday’s announcement with Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon.

The new rules also preclude companies from reducing delivery workers' wages or skimming their tips.

As patrons eschew dining in amid safety concerns, throngs of British Columbians have taken to using apps to order meals.

But last year, the restaurants that had come to depend on the apps for easier ordering and delivery options faced commissions from those delivery companies as high as 30%, cutting into the industry’s already-narrow margins.

“This is a win-win situation for third-party delivery companies and for restaurateurs,” Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president of Restaurants Canada, said at the announcement.

The latest extension comes just days after Ontario announced it was going back down to 50% dine-in capacity for restaurants, and other businesses such as grocery stores and shopping centres, as cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 surge.

Last week, B.C. officials revealed new restrictions meant to help stem the tide against the new variant would see all organized New Year’s Eve parties cancelled, unless they are seated-only events such as restaurant gatherings.

No restrictions on hours of operations or access to booze will be imposed, unlike last year when many restaurants were informed of restrictions at the last minute.

“We encourage people to go. It’s a safe environment to visit a local restaurant,” Kahlon said.

“Whether a person feels safe to go to a restaurant or not is up to the patrons.”

He added it will be up to the Provincial Health Office to make any decisions regarding further restrictions on restaurants.