Even though Canada Post is hiring 2,000 extra workers to handle the 3,400 parcels moving per minute during the Christmas season, the union representing postal workers is concerned staff cannot keep up with holiday demand.
Monica Judd, the B.C. campaign co-ordinator from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said Canada Post was in a “crisis situation” before the holiday crunch because retiring employees are not being replaced.
Last month, Vancouver residents received their Friday mail two days late because 16 delivery routes did not have letter carriers available. Mike Palecek, president of the union, said this occurred because of Canada Post’s plan to cut home delivery services.
At this time of year, letter carriers are already working up to 13 hours a day filling shifts on evenings and weekends. Overtime shifts to accommodate Christmas demand are filled on a volunteer basis by existing full-timers.
Judd said the postal service hired 2,000 casual workers, but even with the extra help, it is not enough.
“When people are overburdened with their own routes, they get into a situation where they’re forcing people into working overtime,” said Judd.
Online Shopping Surge
Business is up at Canada Post with the Crown corporation now delivering two-thirds of the parcels Canadians order online. According to the company’s numbers, Vancouver saw a 38-per-cent increase in parcels from Internet sales in 2014.
Canada Post spokeswoman Anick Losier says the surge in online shopping has been positive for the company.
But she acknowledges it means a heavier workload for the corporation during the holiday season.
“It means that we have twice the workload,” said Losier. “A house that would get a parcel every few weeks may [now] get four that week. Our plants are going to be working 24 hours a day.”
Customers wait and see
Canadians still depend on the postal system to send cards and gifts during the holiday season. Teegan Jessop is a long-time customer who sends multiple letters and cards.
“It’s a source of joy for me. I do keep in touch with friends from all parts of the country through letter writing,” said Jessop. “I think Canada Post provides that creative outlet for communication. It gives me an opportunity to sit down, have a cup of tea, and write to people that I love. It brings me into a festive mood,” said Jessop.
Last year, at this time, Canada Post was criticized on Twitter with more than 300 complaints about package delays, damages, and other inconveniences.
Customer Indri Pasaribu uses Canada Post despite her frustration. Her package sent from Indonesia was misplaced last month.
“It’s not like I’d rather give my money to FedEx. I’d obviously rather deal with Canada Post than private services, but it’s been frustrating,” said Pasaribu.
Palecek said customers should expect to get their packages delivered on time if they make the postal deadlines.
“Workers do that and they want to get those parcels delivered,” he said.
The cutoff date for Canadians wanting to send parcels in time for Christmas is Dec. 18 and for letters and cards Dec. 21 is the deadline.
Canada Post delivered more than 36 million parcels during the holiday season last year.