tipping in canada

A guide to tipping in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic

Though most Canadians are staying home during this pandemic, many delivery workers and restaurant staff continue to go to work, putting themselves at risk of exposure to coronavirus. 

Canada's chief etiquette officer, Julie Blais Comeau says tipping guidelines should shift during the outbreak to reflect the extra challenges and safety factors involved. 

"There are extra precautions that are taken for the safety of everyone, extra pressure and a clear recognition of precarious employment." 

Etiquette and protocol consultant in Toronto, Lisa Orr says a generous tip, if people can afford to do so, is a way of recognizing the sacrifice all of the workers are making. 

"Current tipping practice in Canada is about showing appreciation for good service, and by definition the amazing individuals who are keeping our economy moving by delivering things to Canadians so more of us can stay at home, are providing an incredibly valuable service." 

Here's a guide to tipping in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restaurant food delivery

Orr says typically the tipping guideline for food delivery is anything from 10 to 25 per cent and depends on the size of the order and the delivery fee. 

Orr recommends tipping on the higher end of that range due to the added challenges delivery couriers now face. 

“It’s not just a matter of picking the food up and having a chat before you drop the items off. The work is stressful because you have to be careful about how you interact, and that additional difficulty and stress deserves recognition.” 

Most food delivery apps let you easily add a tip when you place your order.

Grocery delivery

Orr says though a tip isn't typically expected for this type of service, something small (from $2 to $3) is always appreciated. 

Given current circumstances, Orr says to try to tip at least the same as the standard, but if you can, consider tipping a bit more like $3 to $5. 

Since germs can be easily transmitted by cash, Orr suggests being vigilant when providing couriers with cash tips. 

"If you can add a tip when you place the order, add it there," she says.

"I’ve also seen people be creative and leave money in a Ziploc bag by the door. Coins seem to be more popular than bills, but both can be washed so either work." 

Restaurant takeout & curbside pickup 

Blais Comeau says since some restaurants haven't had to change their services, the standard 10 per cent could still be acceptable on takeout orders.

“They’re staying within their environment. Though they may have extra safety and security measures, their service itself may not have been altered.” 

However, due to the current precarious employment of many workers, she adds that a little extra 15, or even 20 per cent tip, would be considerate. 

Orr also says a larger tip helps account for the higher risk the restaurant staff are taking to stay open and the additional financial challenges they may be facing.

Uber and Cabs

Blais Comeau says the usual, pre-COVID tipping standard starts at 10 per cent and usually depends on the distance and the quality of the ride, whether you were assisted with luggage or required extra pit stops, etc. 

She says since the same vulnerabilities of not being able to work from home also apply to Uber and taxi drivers, the tip should be increased. 

Orr suggests a minimum $5 tip for short rides and a minimum 15 per cent for longer rides. 

Beyond tipping: showing your thanks 

Considering the current economic downturn and the loss of work for many, it's understandable if you can't afford to tip more than usual due to your own financial situation. 

Orr says Canadians can show their appreciation in other ways too – like adding a special note of thanks for delivery workers on their door. 

"I wave and say thank you from the window too when I can. Saying thank you from a safe distance is important," she says. "You can also take the time to write a review so that they know they're appreciated."

Blais Comeau also encourages customers to take a step further by sharing a picture of their food on social media to share the love and show a little extra support to their favourite local restaurant they’ve chosen to order in. 

Lead photo by

The Foxley

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