QUEBEC — In light of Quebec’s province-wide lockdown, there have been renewed calls for the province to put in place caps on the fees charged by food-delivery platforms.
Under the new lockdown and the included curfew, restaurants are limited to delivery service after 7:30 p.m. And, given the fees charged by third-party delivery apps, many operators feel they are caught in a catch 22.
“It’s completely unfair; restaurants have been taken hostage — we have no choice but to pay to survive the crisis,” says Fabio Broccoli, manager of the restaurants Fishbone and Elefanté in Old Montreal.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has asked the Quebec government to implement a temporary cap of the service fees charged by platforms such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and SkipTheDishes during curfew hours (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.). On Twitter, Plante stated, “COVID-19 has forced restaurateurs to turn to home delivery. But the fees charged to them by delivery companies are very high. I’m asking [the government of Quebec] to impose a temporary cap on these costs, to ensure profitability for restaurateurs.”
The City of Montreal’s Official Opposition has also motioned to have the city to put pressure on the Quebec government to impose a 15-per-cent ceiling on the fees charged by delivery platforms.
“In this exceptional situation of the pandemic and now the curfew — where free-market rules no longer apply — limiting the costs charged to restaurants would constitute prompt, direct action toward a straightforward solution. We have to help them keep their heads above water if we want the Montreal we know and love to be there when the pandemic is over,” says Lionel Perez, City Councillor for the Darlington district and Leader of the Official Opposition.
According to Global News, Quebec Premier François Legault previously indicated he’s open to looking at legislation, but believes implementing and enforcing fee caps would be complicated.
Industry organizations have also expressed their concern over the impact COVID-19 restrictions continue to have on restaurants and the overall future of the industry.
“Even during the best of times, the average establishment keeps only about 50 cents of every $10 spent on a restaurant meal,” Restaurants Canada shared in a statement on the lockdown measures. “According to the latest Restaurants Canada survey, eight out of 10 restaurants were either losing money or barely scraping by in December: 65 per cent of restaurant operators said they were continuing to operate at a loss, while 19 per cent said they were just breaking even.
“Most survey respondents with businesses losing money said they expect to take at least a year to return to profitability. About half of all survey respondents said they are at risk of closing at least one of their locations in six months.”
And, as an Association Restauration Québec (ARQ) spokesperson told Foodservice and Hospitality at the beginning of the lockdown, “We are, of course, relieved to see the Quebec government acknowledge food-delivery services as an essential service by allowing it to continue 24 hours a day, however this brings a larger issue into light, which is the necessity of capping delivery fees charged by third-party apps. They currently charge up to 30 per cent of the sale price, on top of the upfront fees paid by the customer. We would like to see those fees capped at around 15 per cent, similarly to what’s been done recently in Ontario and British Columbia.”