The Coalition Avenir Québec government has tabled a bill to limit the fees third-party food-delivery services, such as DoorDash and Uber Eats, can charge restaurant owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bill 87, tabled at the national assembly on Thursday by André Lamontagne, the minister of agriculture, fisheries and food, would apply only for as long as restaurant dining rooms are closed under the province’s health decree.
The proposed legislation would see all delivery costs capped at 15 per cent of the bill’s total, with all cost calculations based on the total order, not including taxes and tips.
An additional five per cent could be charged when an order is made through a third-party application.
In the case where food is ordered online or through an app but delivery services aren’t included, fees charged would be limited to 10 per cent.
That means the maximum a third-party service provider could charge a restaurant owner is 20 per cent of the total order.
Currently, some delivery apps charge up to 30 per cent.
“It’s great news,” said Martin Vézina, spokesperson for the Quebec Restaurant Association. “Something that will give them 10 per cent more of their revenues is important.”
Vézina says the association has been pushing the government for this kind of help since January, when the provincewide overnight curfew came into effect.
Restaurants in both Quebec City and Montreal were forced to close down their dining rooms in October 2020 when the second wave of the virus hit the province, leaving many relying solely on takeout, pickup and delivery to stay afloat.
With sales down, many owners have complained that big delivery platforms were eating into any potential profits.
Lamontagne agreed, saying that consumers wanting to help out their local favourites have turned to delivery services.
“So digital meal delivery platforms that existed before the pandemic are benefiting from a quasi-monopoly and are charging restaurants considerable fees,” he said in a news release.
“We hear the requests of the restaurateurs and we consider it a priority to help them through this difficult time.”
For restaurant owners, that help can’t come soon enough.
“We hope that we can benefit from it because it is a temporary measure,” Vézina said.
Lamontagne for his part called on opposition parties to come together to ensure the bill is quickly passed into law.
Fines for rulebreakers could range between $5,000 to $500,000 for individuals and between $15,000 and $1.5 million in other cases, depending on the infraction.
The proposed legislation is also meant to protect delivery drivers, with a provision stating their compensation cannot be affected by the new measures.
Lamontagne had previously asked the three biggest industry players — Uber Eats, DoorDash and SkipTheDishes — to voluntarily cap their fees, something only SkipTheDishes, which was already charging 20 per cent, agreed to.
In a written statement to Global News, Uber Eats did not address the 20 per cent cap outlined in Bill 87, rather focusing on its efforts to support local restaurateurs.
“Local restaurants are the heart and soul of our neighbourhoods,” wrote spokesperson Jonathan Hamel.
“As we navigate this second wave of COVID-19 cases, Uber Eats is supporting restaurants by driving demand through marketing campaigns, waiving activation fees, introducing daily payout, and providing flexible options like 0 per cent pick-up, 7.5 per cent for online ordering, and 15 per cent for restaurants who use their own delivery staff. Also, in partnership with Restaurants Canada we recently launched the Eat Local Relief Grant program, which will provide $1 million to restaurants in need across Canada.”
DoorDash, meanwhile, maintains that it has always supported restaurants, but that pricing regulations could “cause” it to “increase customers, which could lead to fewer orders for local restaurants and fewer earning opportunities for Dashers.”
“Pricing regulations can also remove options available to restaurants by limiting their ability to opt-in to additional services to help their business,” a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement issued Friday morning.
“We have been in touch with the Quebec government and are eager to work with policymakers on solutions that better support restaurants, customers, and Dashers.”
— with a file from The Canadian Press