B.C. sets temporary cap on food delivery fees for restaurants

VICTORIA — British Columbia's public safety minister has announced a temporary fee cap of 15 per cent charged to restaurants by food delivery companies as part of a plan to help the struggling hospitality industry.

Mike Farnworth says an additional limit of five per cent has also been set on related fees, such as payment processing for online orders, to ensure delivery costs will not be shifted to other charges for restaurants.

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He says the caps will be implemented on Dec. 27 and are expected to be in place for three months after the provincial state of emergency in place because of the pandemic is lifted.

The B.C. government has taken other measures to support the industry, such as allowing restaurants to sell and deliver sealed, packaged alcohol with the delivery of a meal.

Patio season was also extended beyond summer months to allow guests to sit outside and at a safe distance.

Farnworth says some delivery companies have been charging upwards of 30 per cent or more but he doesn't believe consumers will stand for paying the difference in fees if they're passed on, especially if competitors charge prices that are fair.

"We expect the companies will be very mindful of the competition that they will be facing from each other but also new entrants into the marketplace," he said of the delivery services.

Farnworth says small delivery service businesses will be exempt from the order on fee caps that also ensures delivery companies can't reduce drivers' wages or keep tips.

Adam Walker, parliamentary secretary for the new economy, says Canada's three major food delivery companies were consulted as part of the cap that is similar to that established in other jurisdictions.

"We've determined that the approach that we're taking is a balanced approach that will allow them to sustain their business throughout the pandemic while supporting restaurant workers and the delivery drivers themselves who will rely on this non-standard work."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020.

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