Manitoba

NDP wants fees for food delivery companies to be capped while indoor dining is prohibited

There's a growing push to bite into the profits of food delivery apps like Skip the Dishes during Manitoba's near-lockdown.

Suggests 15% limit on the same day the Ontario government introduces similar legislation

Jurisdictions including Ontario, New York City and San Francisco have all called for a temporary cap on all delivery app commissions. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

There's a growing push to bite into the profits of food delivery services like Skip the Dishes during Manitoba's near-lockdown.

The New Democrats are calling for a temporary cap on what delivery services charge restaurants while public health orders have banned indoor dining.

The Ontario government tabled legislation Thursday to limit fees charged by food delivery services in some areas of the province, where delivery is booming as people are staying home to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Mark Wasyliw with the Manitoba NDP suggested a 15 per cent cap on delivery fees. He told reporters Thursday that some restaurants are hit with fees as high as 30 per cent.

30% fee too much for small businesses: Wasyliw

"If you're a small mom and pop operation, you just cannot afford that," Wasyliw said.

"You either have to raise your prices and then people aren't ordering from you, or you're at the point where you're basically sending food out the door at a loss."

The restaurant sector has complained of exorbitant commission fees. Third-party delivery services such as Skip the Dishes and Door Dash have become synonymous with delivery for consumers, a pressing issue now that restaurants are reliant on delivery and take-out exclusively. 

During the pandemic, some restaurateurs have been asking people to call the restaurant directly, rather than use third-party mobile applications. A new website, Let's Order Delivery, has sprung up in Winnipeg to encourage customers to contact local eateries.

Wasyliw said the NDP has heard from local restaurant owners worried by the alleged price gouging.

"At one time, these platforms would market themselves to restaurants saying, 'Well, we're extra money. We're these clients that you wouldn't normally have, so we can justify charging 30 per cent of your bill,'" he said.

"Now in a lockdown, that doesn't work because these businesses have to do business this way. They have no alternatives."

Skip The Dishes, an online food delivery service, says it has already offered "industry-leading support" to restaurants ailing during the pandemic. (Kathleen Jones/CBC)

Restaurant owners have previously told CBC News the delivery services don't set a standard commission rate for every eatery, but it can hover in the 20 to 30 per cent range. 

Wasyliw encouraged the provincial government to resolve this issue with the companies themselves, and table legislation if necessary.

When asked about the idea, the province didn't say if it was considering it. Instead, the government referred to the new $5,000 grant program for businesses which are required to close their doors as a result of the current public health orders. 

Winnipeg-based Skip the Dishes has proactively helped out restaurants months before it was asked, a spokesperson said by email.

Since the start of the pandemic, the company says it has provided "industry-leading support" by offering a 25 per cent commission rebate to local, independent restaurants. They've also placed no commission on new restaurants joining Skip and established a 10 per cent rate to any restaurant enlisting their own staff to help with delivery.

DoorDash, another major delivery platform, said in an email it recognized the challenges that restaurants are facing while indoor dining is prohibited. The spokesperson said the company was in touch with the Ontario government about their proposed legislation.

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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