As most Canadians are staying home to flatten the COVID-19 curve, many are turning to delivery services for essentials like food and medical supplies. Not only are they life-savers for anyone juggling family and work responsibilities, they’re also a safe way to get supplies to seniors and people with underlying medical conditions, who are at risk if they shop in stores where they’ll be in contact with others.
How delivery services work
Most delivery companies use an online ordering system, and offer one-time deliveries or a regular service through subscriptions.
Typically, you can schedule when you want the delivery, and it will take anywhere between an hour and a week, depending on the company you use and what you’ve ordered. (However, many delivery services are overwhelmed during the pandemic, so don’t wait until you’re down to your last loaf of bread or prescription pill before placing your order.)
Delivery may happen by courier, driver or mail service. There’s often a minimum order and many delivery companies will waive or lower shipping fees for larger orders.
Most of these companies have a gift card option, so you can help out a friend in need and still allow them to make their own choices.
Watch: What is social distancing? Story continues after video.
Check their protocols
Be sure the business you’re ordering from has a strong health and safety protocol in place and clearly outlined on their website. Responsible precautions include porch or lobby drop-off options and virtual payment processing, and delivery personnel wearing gloves and masks. If it’s food-related, prep staff should have added additional steps to the cleaning and sanitizing process in kitchens, and, of course, not reporting for work if they feel unwell.
Ordering prescription medications
If you’re ordering prescription medications, someone over 18 must sign for them. Since the coronavirus outbreak, many pharmacy delivery services have started offering online consultations, just like you’d get in store, and some online pharmacists are even able to prescribe the most common meds, to free up family doctors for dealing with the pandemic.
Check your neighbourhood options
A number of smaller businesses are offering delivery on a community scale, and they need our support now more than ever, with restaurant dining rooms closed and workers across the hospitality and retail industries losing income or their jobs. So it’s worth checking with your favourite neighbourhood stores and restaurants to see if they’ve switched to a delivery model.
The following businesses offer delivery across most of Canada. They’re not only a great resource for you to use personally, but also for sending care packages to loved ones in need.
Grocery delivery services
These services will drop off your basic groceries, and sometimes even non-essentials, from books and magazines to booze to flowers. Treat yourself, if you can!
What: Groceries from all departments and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, as well as body, hair and skin care products.
Where: Select locations across Canada. To find out if you’re in a delivery zone, enter your address into the online form.
Cost: $9.97 flat delivery fee
What: Non-perishable foods and household supplies, with two-day delivery for Costco members.
Where: Eligible zones in Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia. See the full map here.
Cost: Delivery is free on orders over $75, with no minimum order.
What: Independent service that delivers from a network of grocery stores and pharmacies, including Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Valu-Mart, Shoppers Drugmart, and M&M Food Market.
Where: All Canadian provinces and territories
Cost: Depends on how much you spend and when you want it delivered. The prices go up during busy times.
What: Groceries and household supplies (may include pharmaceutical products, depending on location), with same-day delivery.
Where: Select stores and locations across Canada. To find out if they’ll deliver to your address, enter your postal code on their online form.
Cost: $11.99 flat fee
What: Household staples, such as non-perishable foods, cleaning products and body, skin and hair products, as well as medical supplies. (Of course, there’s all the usual Amazon merchandise too, including books, toys and other stay-home distractions.)
Where: Across Canada
Cost: Free shipping on orders over $35. For a $7.99 monthly subscription fee, you can join Amazon Prime and get free shipping and faster delivery times, as quick as one day in some cases. Perks also include Amazon Prime Video, its streaming service, which is always nice at times like these.
Prep-at-home meal delivery services
Some major grocery chains and smaller local services have joined the trend of selling pre-measured ingredients for a single recipe you cook yourself at home, so it’s worth looking up local options too.
These are among the most popular national services:
What: A weekly grocery delivery service customized to your family’s tastes. Choose from recipes for all meal times categorized by dietary preference. They don’t recommend using the service if you have a serious food allergy, because all boxes are prepared in the same warehouse.
Where: Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Maritimes
Delivery cost: Weekly subscription pricing depends on the type of recipes you’d like (easy, classic or family), the number of servings and the number of recipes.
What: A flexible subscription service for customizable food boxes with recipes. Subscribers have the option to skip or cancel weeks and send gift cards.
Where: The service covers 95 percent of Canada, and is available in all of the provinces, but not yet in the territories.
Cost: Depends on the number of servings and recipes, as well as whether you order a family, “pronto” or veggie plan. In some areas, a delivery fee also applies.
What: Flexible meal plans, from two to four recipes a week, with classic, family, 15-minute and vegetarian options.
Where: Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Manitoba
Cost: Shipping is free and prices range from $8.99 per serving to $12.95 per serving, depending on the plan you chose. The family plan is the best for a tight budget!
Restaurant delivery services
Independent services that deliver food from restaurants to your home have blown up, and during the pandemic, the drivers and bike couriers who deliver hot food to our doorsteps are modern-day heroes. Tip them well!
You should also check out the social media accounts of your favourite local restaurants, to see how they’re responding to the crisis. Many are distributing community meals, some at low cost for those who cannot make a living right now or are working on the front lines in hospitals and clinics.
What: Delivers food from local restaurants to your home, with some 24-hour options in some locations. Place your order through the online app. To avoid close contact with your delivery person, you can leave a note in your order requesting doorstep, lobby or sidewalk drop-off.
Where: 27 cities across Canada
Cost: Calculated to include pick-up and drop-off fee for the delivery person, as well as to account for the distance between the restaurant and your home.
Skip The Dishes
What: Delivers meals ordered from local restaurants through an app and website. In response to coronavirus concerns, the company has suspended the cash pay option and all orders are contactless, and restaurants may seal their orders to limit contact.
Where: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island
Cost: Based on the distance and time to travel from the restaurant to your home.
What: Another app for getting food delivered from your favourite local restaurant to your own dining table (or TV tray). Doordash has implemented several food waste-reduction initiatives that help combat hunger in communities. During the pandemic, they’re supplying their delivery people with free gloves and sanitizer.
Where: Major Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Cost: A delivery and service fee is added to your order. The delivery fee can be higher during busy times.
Prepared meal delivery services
For pre-cooked dishes that ready to eat or re-heat, these delivery services are a great choice. They’re also ideal for those of us who are ill, frail, caring for others, have disabilities that make food preparation more challenging, or who are simply overwhelmed. Prepared meals are typically more pricey than cooking from scratch, but still more budget-friendly than most restaurant takeaway options.
Meals on Wheels
What: Volunteer-run services delivering hot and frozen meals to people who are ill or elderly.
Where: These are run on a local basis, but can be found in almost every Canadian community.
Cost: Prices vary, from location to location, but are kept low thanks to volunteers
Website: Various (Search online for your nearest Meals on Wheels service)
What: Healthy frozen meal delivery service, with special options, such as low-sodium, gluten-free, plant-based and diabetic-friendly.
Where: Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia (or beyond these provinces, and shipped by courier overnight, in a reusable insulated cooler)
Cost: Delivery fees for local orders within the four provinces served vary according to postal code. You can calculate the cost of delivering to your home, using the online form.
What: Healthy frozen meals, with many options for people with dietary restrictions and preferences.
Where: The Greater Toronto Area, and neighbouring municipalities, such as Hamilton and Burlington
Cost: Delivery costs between $15.95 and $29.95, depending on your postal code
What: You can order breakfast, lunch and dinner, with plenty specialized options, such as keto and vegetarian. Bonus: They also do baked goods, so you can indulge any quarantine comfort-food cravings.
Where: Greater Vancouver
Cost: Delivery fee of $6-10, depending on your location, with a minimum order of $40.
What: A healthy meal delivery service that provides frozen meals, snacks and smoothies. They do weight-loss meals too, just in case that’s one of your #stayhome goals.
Where: Greater Halifax and many of the surrounding towns, within the zones highlighted on this delivery map. Overnight courier delivery is also available for Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the rest of Nova Scotia.
Cost: From $2.99 to $14.99, depending on your home address and whether you’re ordering meals for local or courier delivery.
Medication delivery services
Getting out of the house to fill a prescription is not an option for many people right now. Thankfully, you can even get your meds in the mail.
What: The drugstore will fill your prescription (up to 90 days worth of meds) and mail them to your home, within three to five days. You’ll need to sign on receipt of your package.
Where: Sign up online to have your meds mailed anywhere in Canada
Cost: Shipping is free, but you’ll pay the usual fee to have the prescription filled.
What: The online service fills your prescriptions then ships them to your door. Signature will be required on arrival.
Where: Most Canadian provinces, but Quebec pharmacists operate independently within CostCo and do not deliver through this service.
Cost: Free shipping
Pet food delivery services
Our cats and dogs are the furry helpers getting us through long days at home with their total disregard for social-distancing etiquette. Let’s not forget to stock up on their favourite kibbles and treats.
What: The online version of the bricks-and-mortar store, PetSmart has dozens of brands of food for the most common pets, as well as toys to entertain them (and us), while we’re all stuck at home together.
Where: Shipping to all Canadian provinces
Cost: Free delivery for orders over $49
What: An online megastore selling food and basically everything else you could need or want for your best furry friend.
Where: All provinces and territories across Canada.
Cost: Free shipping for orders over $79; $5.99 for Ontario and Quebec customers and $9.99 for the rest of Canada. (Costs may be higher for people and pets living in remote areas).
Marijuana delivery services
Is marijuana really an essential? Well, we’ll all have plenty of time to ponder that over the coming weeks. If you’re looking to get some delivered, we’ve got you covered.
What: An online store selling everything from pre-rolled joints to medical marijuana to not-for-kids gummy bears.
Where: Delivery to most major Canadian cities. Here’s the list!
Cost: Orders below $149 have a flat shipping fee of $15. Spend more than that and it’s free. See you when this is all over!
- What are the cases of the new coronavirus in Canada? Take a look at our map.
- Suddenly find yourself applying for EI? Here’s what you need to know.
- How to tell the difference between the coronavirus and the flu.
- “Flattening the curve” could help us all, and here’s why.
- Things are changing quickly: a cross-Canada look at which services are open and closed.