• Michael Laxer

Who will pay for Ontario's food delivery app fee cap?

CUPW says that while the Supporting Local Restaurants Act "may help small businesses, it provides little protection to couriers making the deliveries".



A bill introduced On November 26 by the Ford government in Ontario aims to limit how much popular food delivery apps like SkipTheDishes or UberEats can charge restaurants for their services during regional pandemic lockdowns.


Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario's associate minister of small business says the changes are needed as some delivery apps are collecting up to 30 per cent in commissions from restaurants, many of which are struggling with the loss of in restaurant dining.


The Supporting Local Restaurants Act would implement "a cap of 15 per cent on delivery fees, with a cap of 20 per cent inclusive of all fees." This would apply in areas where indoor eating has been banned and would be lifted when that restriction is lifted. The government says the legislation would protect the workers and contractors of the apps from having the costs to the companies passed down to them.


The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is concerned that the companies will still do exactly that.


In a press release November 30 they say that while the bill "may help small businesses, it provides little protection to couriers making the deliveries, whose wages may be threatened as companies look for ways to make up the lost revenue from the capped fees."


According to CUPW:


The legislation, in writing, prohibits delivery companies from passing the financial impact of the cap onto their workers, but little is said about how the province plans to enforce this. The Bill provides a complaints-based mechanism to the Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction for workers who think their employer is cutting their compensation, but it doesn't offer real labour protections. A complaints process is of little use to couriers who are already intimidated or have reason to fear losing their income through cut hours or simply being deleted from the app. Instead of addressing the underlying imbalance of gig workers being misclassified as 'independent contractors', the onus of asserting what should be basic labour rights is once again put on couriers' shoulders.
It's been clear with recent examples, that the apps are free to change their pay structure unilaterally, and without transparency.
"Workers often have no idea how their pay is calculated and rates can vary wildly from hour to hour, says Brice Sopher, a courier in Toronto. "Expecting gig workers to conclusively prove they've had their pay cut through some nebulous complaints process essentially allows companies like Doordash, SkipTheDishes and Uber Eats to slash pay for couriers with very little risk of any repercussions."

Given this lack of transparency Jan Simpson, CUPW National President says that when it comes to making sure the companies do not violate the law "the burden of falls on the wrong people. We demand protection for these workers."


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