Canada

Ontario moves to cap delivery fees in COVID-19 hotspots where restaurants are takeout only

TORONTO — Ontario is moving to cap the fees third-party delivery apps impose on restaurants in regions where indoor dining is prohibited, a senior government source says.

The Progressive Conservative government is poised to introduce legislation today that would give the province the authority to temporarily limit how much apps such as UberEats and DoorDash can charge restaurants in the grey or lockdown COVID-19 restriction zone for their services, according to the source.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press say companies who contravene the proposed law could face fines of up to $10 million.

Read more: Ontario puts Toronto, Peel into lockdown; curbside retail, restaurants move to takeout only

The source says the limit has not yet been set but the province is looking at something similar to what was done in New York City, which recently capped delivery app commission fees at 20 per cent to help restaurants weather the pandemic.

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The bill also aims to protect the pay of delivery drivers and ensure companies don’t restrict their delivery zones or cut out certain restaurants, the source says.

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The proposed law is meant to provide temporary relief to restaurants who are now forced to rely on delivery and takeout orders as their only source of revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions barring indoor service, the source says.

Many restaurants across Ontario have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic, particularly amid rapidly changing public health rules affecting capacity and hours of operation.

Read more: Auditor general highlights Ontario’s ‘confusing,’ indirect communications on COVID-19 in new report

Recently imposed 28-day lockdowns in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region have meant restaurants in those areas are closed to all but takeout and delivery orders, prompting some to push back against the rules.

One west Toronto restaurant was shut down by city officials earlier this week after they say it was found to be serving customers on site.

Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly urged delivery apps to cut their commission fees in light of the pandemic.

The legislation, if passed, would apply to the largest delivery companies in the province, documents show.

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