New licence category aims to skip the liability

Province seeks to shift onus from restaurants, retailers to third-party companies that deliver liquor or cannabis


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The online meal delivery business was becoming very popular prior to the pandemic. Now it is ubiquitous.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2021 (590 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The online meal delivery business was becoming very popular prior to the pandemic. Now it is ubiquitous.

Not surprisingly when a disruptive service like mobile app delivery businesses becomes as popular as it has — many food delivery companies doubled their revenue during the first year of the pandemic — there are some kinks that might need to be ironed out from a regulatory point of view.

On Wednesday the province announced the start of a 45-day consultation process for amendments to the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act, to establish a new licence category.

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES SkipTheDishes, which does not deliver cannabis products, already requires its delivery people to see valid government-issued ID upon delivery of alcohol products.

Specifically, the licence — which will cost $500 — will require the delivery person to check IDs at the door when delivering alcohol and/or cannabis. (For alcohol, the customer must show identification that the person is 18 years old. For cannabis the age restriction is 19.)

The province’s rationale for the amendment is that until now, the liability fell to the originating establishment — bar, restaurant or cannabis retailer — if the delivery person presented the controlled substances to a person who is underage.

Justice Minister Cameron Friesen said the new regulations would shift the responsibility from restaurants to third-party delivery companies.

“That’s where it belongs,” said Friesen. “With the delivery industry growing, we want to make sure that liquor and cannabis products are delivered safely and responsibly.”

Shaun Jeffrey, the executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association, said his organization was involved in talks with the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA) about licensing issues and was happy that the regulator is being proactive in this regard.

“We stressed the fact because restaurants assumed the liability, but it was really out of their control, it became an extra liability,” he said. “And because of that a lot of restaurants had not been taking advantage of that (on-line delivery of alcohol). We can assume more restaurants will now participate in this potential revenue stream.”

A spokesperson for SkipTheDishes, the Winnipeg-based food delivery company which is the largest in Canada, said, “We look forward to consulting with the LGCA on how SkipTheDishes can continue to provide safe and convenient alcohol delivery for customers across Manitoba.”

SkipTheDishes does not deliver cannabis products and it already requires its delivery people to see valid government-issued ID upon delivery of alcohol products. It also ensures that the name associated with the Skip account matches the name on the ID.

Additionally, in provinces where it delivers alcohol, its algorithms only assign alcohol orders to couriers who have verifiable proof of required training (such as Manitoba’s Smart Choices Responsible Service certification).

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Justice minister Cameron Friesen.

The proposed regulations include restrictions of delivery of a maximum of 30 grams of cannabis in a single package for delivery to a customer, and that the delivery of cannabis or alcohol can’t take place more than 30 minutes after the establishment that originated the order is required to close.

The proposed legislation would also enable the LGCA to develop a “secret shopper” program of sorts, that would help its ability to enforce breaches related to selling or serving regulated products to minors and young people.

Agents under the program would attempt to purchase regulated products and allow the LGCA to monitor licensees’ compliance with prohibitions on under-age sales.

Martin Cash

Martin Cash

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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