Canada Post is telling the country to be prepared for delayed package deliveries leading up to the holidays due to backlogs from recent worker job action, but local members say they aren’t seeing anything out of the ordinary.

In a Nov. 27 notice on its website, Canada Post announced that there would be “unprecedented backlogs” and “lengthy delays” of packages that could last into the new year.

Meaghan Richens/NNSL photo.
Carol Moore shows off the other side of her sign at a demonstration in support of postal workers in front of MP McLeod’s office on Saturday.

The Crown Corporation is owing the backlogs to recent work disruptions from rotating strikes by the union due to failed negotiations as well as protests by allied groups at Canada Post facilities in response to the federal government’s back-to-work legislation on Nov. 27.

Jon Hamilton, a spokesperson with Canada Post said there is now a national backlog of about six million parcels across the country as of Friday morning and the Crown corporation is squeezed to catch up with deliveries as peak season arrives. About 4,000 seasonal workers have been added across the country to help with demand, he added.

“We understand how important holiday deliveries are,” he said. “We are doing everything with additional resources and our own people to deliver as much as possible. But we are challenged by backlogs and other items in terms of being able to deliver everything we have received,” said Hamilton.

“The expectation of when something might arrive is very unpredictable.”

Hamilton said he is aware that Northern communities in particular depend on Canada Post and the mailing company is doing its best to meet demand.

“This late in December and now with a compact Christmas delivery period, it is going to be extremely difficult and challenging, but we are going to do what we can, especially for those Northern communities,” he said.

The Nov. 27 alert states that domestic parcel deliveries may be delayed during the peak holiday season and into new year. International parcels, especially, are suffering a “significant backlog” and delivery dates will in some cases stretch into March 2019. They will also face required screening by the Canada Border Services Agency, making wait times potentially longer, reads the notice.

Expectations for smaller mail are more timely and running closer to normal, including lettermail and direct marketing mail.

On Dec. 1, a number of CUPW members and labour allies protested in front of the office of Michael McLeod, MP for the Northwest Territories, who supported federal legislation to send postal employees back to work. Yellowknifer talked to some residents who indicated they had late items, including Jawah Bercier who had delayed delivery on an order of shoes and Frank Walsh who had been waiting a few extra weeks for some packages.

Evelyn Ray, vice-president of local 858, which represents most of the Northern workers said despite backlogs across the country, packages have been coming in steadily at the Yellowknife location near the airport without any abnormal delays.

“Here, locally, we haven’t seen much,” she said. “Maybe in the bigger centres, for sure, but we didn’t even go out to picket. I think there was only one week when (Canada Post) were on rotating strikes and we didn’t have any mail for about a four day period. Other than that we have been getting trucks and we have processed it and it goes out.”

“Here in Yellowknife we are not seeing big delays, if we are seeing any at all,” she added.

Ray said delays happen throughout the year as part of the process, but it is not fair to say they are out of proportion with normal trends.

“Even with people online we have noticed that there have been people tracking parcels and saying they are getting to destination at a reasonable time,” she said.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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