VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s extending the cap on fees charged by food delivery companies to help the restaurant industry through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, says the fee cap was to expire on December 31st, but it’s now been extended to the end of 2022.

The fee charged to restaurants by food delivery companies will remain at 15 per cent, while the additional cap of five per cent has been extended for other services, such as online ordering and processing fees.

The original order was put in place on December 22nd last year under the Emergency Program Act and was extended for the first time in September.

Kahlon says the cap has been widely viewed as a success by business owners and industry professionals.

He says it’s a “key measure” in allowing restaurants to continue to operate and make money during the pandemic.

“If the caps are not in place, businesses actually lose money on every order. This way, we ensure that the service delivery companies can continue to make a profit, but our restaurants can also navigate this challenging time,” Kahlon told a news conference on Monday.

Mark von Schellwitz, Western Canada vice-president for Restaurants Canada, says in-person dining has declined by half during the pandemic, while delivery sales increased three-fold.

“As it becomes a more important component of every restaurant sales mix, it was really important to have these fee caps,” he said. “This provides that cost stability that restaurants really need in the takeout delivery business.”

Earlier this year, the province also announced that businesses with liquor licences would be able to purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale prices permanently.

Kahlon says the ministry will continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on the sector to determine whether more supports need to be put in place.

He says he is encouraging residents to support local restaurants over the holidays, either by dining in or ordering delivery.