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Canada’s average restaurant tip is 17.2 per cent.

More than 4,200 people filled out a recent newsletter survey on tipping and the vast majority of them said they tip between 15 and 20 per cent.

The prompt for surveying readers about tipping was, first, the rising price of restaurant meals as a result of pandemic inflation and, second, Ontario’s move to bring servers up to the same minimum wage standard as other workers, as of Jan. 1. The current minimum wage for bartenders and servers in Ontario is $12.55, compared to $14.35 for others (data on all provinces here). Starting Jan. 1, the new Ontario minimum wage for all will be $15.

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Just under 59 per cent of survey participants said they plan to tip the same going forward, one-third said they will tip less and the rest said they would tip more. As ever with tipping, there was disagreement in the survey results about whether to apply the percentage tip to the total bill or the pre-tax amount.

A small minority of survey participants specified in completing the survey that they tip on food and drink costs, not the tax portion of the bill. I looked online for views on this and the consensus seems to be that it’s fine to tip on the pre-tax amount, but tipping on the entire amount is what a lot of people end up doing.

One reason to tip on the full amount is that it’s a generous thing to do for people who work in a sector that was hit hard in the pandemic. Also, tipping 17.2 per cent on the tax portion of a restaurant bill doesn’t add much to the cost of dining.

That said, the payment terminals used in restaurants definitely steer people toward tipping on the full bill. These terminals typically offer preset tip percentages as you complete your payment with a credit or debit card. I asked on Twitter if people found these preset percentages were applied to their full bill with tax included and the consensus answer was yes. Many did not seem happy with this arrangement.


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