Limit food delivery app fees during pandemic, says MPP

Liberal MPP Amanda Simard is calling on the Ford government to temporarily cap food delivery fees charged by app-based services like Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes so that restaurants can survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amanda Simard says provincial emergency order will help restaurants survive

Amanda Simard says app-based services like Uber Eats are benefiting from increased name recognition as people reflexively pull them up to order takeout during the pandemic. She wants the province to order them to cut back on the commission fees they charge. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

An eastern Ontario MPP is calling on the province to temporarily cap food delivery fees charged by app-based services like Uber Eats so that restaurants can financially survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amanda Simard, the Liberal MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, wants the Ford government to issue an emergency order restricting delivery fees to a "reasonable" 15 per cent, as has been done in New York City and Los Angeles.

With restaurateurs relying solely on takeout and delivery during the pandemic, some have claimed the fees charged by those services are too high and are putting their long-term survival at risk.

Some third-party delivery services, Simard said, have been charging as much as 30 per cent to get meals into customers' hands.

"It would be temporary. It's an emergency measure. And it's to ensure that they can pay the bills — especially their rent and [the wages of] the employees," she told CBC Ottawa's All In A Day Thursday.

"Other jurisdictions have already put such a cap in place, and I think that we need to follow suit and do the same."

On Thursday, Simard sent a letter to Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario's associate minister of Small Business, arguing that fees reward "one business at the unnecessary expense of many others."

Simard wrote that she was echoing sentiments expressed by both Toronto Mayor John Tory and the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association.

She told All In A Day that delivery services are benefiting from the name recognition generated during the pandemic, as people stuck at home increasingly pull up apps to get food brought to their doorstep.

"These are good services. I've used them several times, and they have to continue. So I fully support the delivery services," Simard said.

"But we need to make sure it's fair for the small businesses ... and also the customer."

As of Thursday afternoon, Simard said she had not heard back from the province.

Certain delivery services have previously told CBC News that they've cut commission fees for restaurants during the pandemic, noting they cover business costs like paying and insuring their drivers.​​​​​​ For instance, Uber Eats reduced its commission from 30 per cent to 15 per cent for a month to restaurants who use their own employees as drivers.

Some restaurateurs, meanwhile, are simply giving up on conventional apps.

in Ottawa, Love Local Delivery, partly created by restaurant owners, scrapped the commission system altogether and instead is having restaurants pay the service $2 while the customer pays $5 to have their meal delivered up to five kilometres from the restaurant, plus $1.50 for each additional kilometre. 

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