As of this week, Montreal is the latest pin on the map for ride hailing service Uber’s food delivery offshoot, UberEats. The service is now in some 68 cities globally, and several other Canadian locations including Toronto and Edmonton.
UberEats joins Foodora as the city’s second centralized food delivery service. Both companies “partner” with restaurants and have delivery teams who carry food from restaurants to customers — meaning restaurants really only have to deal with preparing orders. The much older Just Eat is a little different — restaurants listed on that site manage their own deliveries.
Foodora is already reasonably established in the city, delivering by both bike and car, but UberEats does enter the game with a pre-prepared fleet of drivers — car owners who drive for Uber’s ride hailing service can opt to chauffeur food around instead of people.
Back when UberEats first announced its expansion to Montreal, the company promised to deliver from a “curated” list of (assumedly good) restaurants. To start with they’ve got over 100 restaurants on board, including some higher end spots like Turkish spot Su and Jérôme Ferrer’s Europea. A few other notables include Tejano, Venice, Falafel Avenue, Junior, Thazard, Uniburger, and Rustique, should you need a whole pie delivered to your residence (notably, a number of restaurants deliver both via Foodora and UberEats). Orders are done via a specific UberEats app, although there are some tie-ins with the general Uber app.
For the sake of the whole story, these sorts of delivery services have drawn criticism for using the “gig economy” approach of relying on independent individuals to offer their services, in place of actual staff (for example, cab drivers, or a delivery driver employed by a restaurant). Although such “contractors” are granted flexibility in that they can choose when they want to work, they may not earn minimum wage actually doing the job, as would happen if they were working as actual employees.
Foodora has been accused of breaking labour laws in Australia with more or less the same model as in Canada. As for Uber, most negative attention has focused on the much bigger ride-hailing side of the company (one report called its drivers “sweated labour” and “chronically underpaid”), but there’s plenty of overlap between that side and UberEats.
In short, both could be seen as unfairly exploiting their delivery workers — just a little something to chew on.