You’ve Got Mail?

The strike is over, but the fight is not

By: Emily Macdonald, Staff Writer

In case you hadn’t noticed, Canada Post was on strike for nearly six weeks in October and November. Negotiations, however, have been underway for nearly a year, with Canadian postal workers advocating for better pay, adoption of rules to reduce workplace injury, job security, guaranteed hours for the 8,000 carriers in rural and suburban areas, and equality for workers with the 42,000 urban carriers employed by Canada Post.

With most university students using email rather than snail mail, the impact is not greatly felt – except when it comes to packages. Many online shoppers have been worried about facing significant delays in getting their goodies, but packages continued to move during the past few weeks.

By November 25th, the strike had affected all parts of Canada, including Northern Ontario. Bill C-89, a back-to-work legislation, was fully passed on November 27. Bill C-89 is controversial, though. In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadian workers have a fundamental right to strike, and that right is protected under the Constitution.

According to Labour Minister Patty Hajdu, the Bill is consistent with the Constitution, saying the strike had caused “significant, growing economic harm.” Sen. Peter Harder noted that continuing the strike would be harmful for rural and elderly Canadians, who rely on stable mail delivery service. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that two thirds of small businesses had been negatively impacted by the strike.

Even with Canada Post employees coming back to work, the concern of packages arriving in time for the holidays remains. With the backlog of mail, an official statement from Canada Post states that the “postal service remains operational, but Canada Post has advised commercial customers that it is not able to honour its delivery standards for any product because of prolonged and ongoing rotating strikes. The strikes have created massive backlogs of mail and parcels already in our network, just days before we expect millions of more parcels from Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales.”

The statement continues, saying that although “there will be delays across the country, Canada Post expects the worst delays for mail and parcels will be for items that originate or are destined for southern and southwestern Ontario.”   

Students of Lakehead Thunder Bay should not be worried as there is a good chance you receive your packages on time. Students of Lakehead Orillia though, will notice a longer wait time for their mail as they are closer to Toronto, but will not experience as much of a delay as other parts of Southern Ontario. Lakehead student Caitlin Cleary told The Argus: “the strike has not affected me much, I still got all my packages even if a day or two late.”

While online shoppers can rest easy, Canada Post employees and other union workers across the country are protesting Bill C-89, calling it “archaic.” The union has warned it is considering legal action against the legislation.