B.C. extends cap on food delivery fees for add’l year

B.C. extends cap on food delivery fees for add'l year
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The B.C. government has announced that it will be extending its temporary cap on food delivery fees until the end of 2022.

The cap, which was set to expire on December 31, 2021, limits fees charged to restaurants from food delivery companies at 15 per cent. An additional cap of 5 per cent will also be extended for other related fees associated with use of the service, such as online ordering and processing fees. This will ensure companies cannot shift their delivery costs to other fees.

By limiting the total fees delivery companies can charge food establishments, the Province hopes it will help restaurants continue to operate and recover amid a resurgence of COVID-19.

The measure also prohibits delivery companies from reducing compensation for their drivers or retaining staff gratuity, making sure employees will continue to be paid their regular wages.

“Over the last two years, the restaurant industry has shown such resilience and tenacity as it has adapted to overcome immense challenges from this pandemic,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We know food delivery charges were hurting hard-working businesses and their bottom line. That’s why we are here: to provide a helping hand by extending the cap to put more hard-earned money back into the pockets of people working in the restaurant industry.”

The extension, which is being made under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, will last until December 31, 2022.

“The food delivery fee cap extension is like unwrapping a new gift just days before Christmas,” Ian Tostenson, president and CEO, BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “This is great news for the industry and allows so many restaurants from across our province to continue to provide take-out options to their customers. We want to thank government for listening to our concerns over these fees and continuing to take action to support our industry through these incredibly challenging times.”

Small-delivery service businesses that serve less than 500 restaurants will continue to be exempt from the order as well, notes the government.

The extension of the cap on delivery fees comes the same day that heightened COVID-19 restrictions come back into effect in British Columbia, including the limitations of movement at restaurants as well as the ban of all New Year’s Events.

This isn’t the first extension of pandemic regulations aimed at supporting restaurants this year either. Earlier in 2021, the Province announced restaurants, bars and tourism operators with liquor licences were able to purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale prices permanently.

In 2021, the Province also amended B.C.’s liquor- and food-primary liquor licence to allow restaurants to sell and deliver sealed, packaged liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal for off-site consumption.

“Throughout the pandemic, our industry has faced a number of challenges – including high delivery fees,” said Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president, Restaurants Canada. “The cap brought in by the Province has helped bring down the costs associated with delivering meals to people. We are thrilled that this cap is being extended as we work to continue to adapt and recover from the pandemic.”

The Province has also taken action to allow more than 2,000 temporary patios to become permanent under amended provincial liquor regulations.

When this fee cap was first implemented in 2020, SkipTheDishes put in place a “B.C. fee” which automatically put a 99 cent surcharge on all orders in the province.

READ MORE: Skip the Dishes retaliates to service fee cap with new B.C. surcharge

At the time, the company provided a statement to CHEK which said “As a result of the Food Delivery Services (COVID-19) Order put into place by the Government of British Columbia, we have introduced a temporary ‘B.C. Fee’ across the province to ensure that there is no impact to the service and support we’re able to provide all of our stakeholders while the order is in effect,” the company said. “We want to be transparent with our customers and make it clear why they are seeing this fee while the Order is in place.”

When asked if there was anything new in the fee cap extension announced today which would prohibit companies from charging a consumer fee, the ministry provided a statement that said the cap is in place to provide relief to restaurants and businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Consumers have the option to use other food delivery service providers who may not charge a consumer fee,” the ministry says in a statement provided to CHEK. “They also have the option to contact restaurants directly to order food, many of which offer their own delivery service.”

CHEK has reached out to SkipTheDishes to see if it plans to continue to charge consumers this fee. The story will be updated with the company’s comments when they become available.

– With files from Rob Shaw

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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