Ontario Premier Doug Ford says it’s time for food delivery services like Uber Eats to pitch in and cut fees for struggling restaurants.
“We need you to help out these mom and pop shops right now. Please consider reducing the commission rates you charge restaurants impacted by these new health measures,” Ford said Tuesday at an announcement in Etobicoke, Ont.
The Ontario government announced Friday it would prohibit indoor dining in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa for a second time to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
“I’ll tell ya, it’s painful doing what we had to do last week. It really weighs on you,” the premier said.
Earlier: Ontario shuts down dining inside restaurants in some areas for a second time.
He urged people to order takeout if they can afford it.
“It’s never been more important to support our own … It can be the difference between a line cook getting a shift or not. It could be the difference between the delivery driver making rent or not. It can make the difference between a family keeping their business open or closing for good.”
Ford also said Tuesday that his government would spend $300 million to help businesses with costs like property taxes and hydro bills.
Tony Elenis, the president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), said commission rates had a “tremendous” impact on the restaurant industry even before the pandemic.
“Their commissions should come down period,” Elenis told HuffPost Canada. “It’s too high.”
He said companies charge restaurants as much as 30 per cent an order on top of the delivery fees customers pay.
He said the ORHMA will launch a new delivery service — which will charge nine-per cent commission — by December.
Both Uber and SkipTheDishes have met with his association about cutting rates, Elenis said, but only SkipTheDishes actually took action.
The company won’t charge commission for 30 days to new restaurants that sign up while COVID-19-related restrictions are in place, it said in a press release Tuesday. It will also refund 25 per cent of its commission charge to local, independent businesses, a spokesperson told HuffPost by email.
Elenis called the move “a good gesture.”
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Uber has waived activation fees during the pandemic, a spokesperson told HuffPost, and has lowered fees for restaurants that offer pick up or provide their own courier.
DoorDash has said it will offer free delivery every Wednesday to drum up business for restaurants in December. It’s also waiving some fees for small businesses who sign up before the end of the year.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said Ford should legally impose a 15-per-cent cap on commission fees.
“If we want independent restaurants to survive, then we need to do more than ask Uber Eats for a favour,” he said in a statement.
This story has been updated with comment from Uber.
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