B.C. limits food-delivery company fees charged to restaurants during COVID-19 pandemic

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      As B.C. restaurants struggle to weather the economic storm of the COVID-19 pandemic, food and beverage establishments will gain protection from potentially excessive fees charged by delivery companies.

      B.C. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced today (December 22) that an Emergency Program Act program order, effective as of Sunday (December 27), temporarily limits fees that food-delivery companies are charging to restaurants.

      The maximum fees that food-delivery companies can charge is 15 percent.

      An additional limit of five percent on other related fees such as online ordering and processing fees is to ensure companies can’t shift their charges to other fees.

      "Capping food service delivery fees is another way our government is providing immediate relief to our local businesses to ensure they can focus on retaining staff and keeping their business running,” Farnworth explained in news release.

      After consultation with stakeholders and with Parliamentary Secretary for the New Economy Adam Walker, the provincial government will ensure that the order will exempt small delivery service businesses, which are often locally based.

      In addition, the order will ensure that delivery companies can’t reduce compensation or retain gratuities from their drivers, and will thus allow workers to be paid their regular wages.

      "During this time, we all understand the need to strike a balance between supporting businesses in the new economy while still ensuring that delivery drivers are fairly compensated for the work they do,” Walker said.

      This order will remain in place until three months after the provincial state of emergency is lifted. B.C. announced today that it is extended the provincial state of emergency to January 5, 2021.

      B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association president and CEO Ian Tostenson called the move “tremendous news for our sector”.

      "B.C. restaurants and hospitality businesses have suffered difficult losses during this pandemic and are in need of immediate relief and support,” said in a news release.

      According to statistics from the provincial government, employment in B.C. food services and drinking places in September this year was 150,260. That’s 25 percent less than September in 2019 (200,110 employees) and 20 percent below February of this year (188,470 employees).

      In addition, employment in food services and drinking places in September of this year was 6.8 percent of the province’s total employment compared to 8.4 percent in September in 2019 and 8.1 percent in February of this year.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.