Post office lockout delays HST ballots

Thousands of ballots for B.C.'s harmonized sales tax referendum were being stored in post offices after Canada Post locked out its urban employees across the country Wednesday.

Postal workers picket at a South Surrey office Wednesday.

VICTORIA – Thousands of ballots for B.C.’s harmonized sales tax referendum were being stored in post offices after Canada Post locked out its urban employees across the country Wednesday.

Elections BC has prepared a contingency plan for post office disruptions, as officials try to get more than three million ballots delivered to homes across the province by June 24.

Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt told CTV Wednesday that since Canada Post moved from rotating strikes to a complete shutdown, the government will consider introducing back-to-work legislation. The strikes have cost Canada Post an estimated $1 million in lost revenue, and before the lockout management reduced urban mail delivery to three days a week.

Craig James, B.C.’s acting chief electoral officer at Elections BC, said Wednesday that no changes to the referendum timetable were being contemplated “at this time.” If the post office dispute drags into next week, Elections BC has the option to push back the deadline for returning completed ballots beyond the current date of July 22.

Elections BC officials said they will adjust their schedule if necessary to give voters the same amount of time to consider how they will vote.

Ballot packages went in the mail on Monday to regions outside Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. They were scheduled to go out to those areas starting June 20.

Voters who receive their ballots can return them to one of 60 Service B.C. (formerly government agent) offices around the province instead of putting them in the mail.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon urged people to vote “no” to the referendum question, which asks whether voters want to “extinguish” the HST and go back to the 12-per-cent federal and provincial sales tax.

Former premier and Fight HST organizer Bill Vander Zalm is running an advertising campaign urging people to vote yes, reminding people of the additional seven per cent tax extended to restaurant meals and a long list of services.

Faced with a strong public backlash against the HST, the B.C. and federal governments have committed to lower the rate to 11 per cent in 2012, and to 10 per cent in 2014.

Rebates of $175 for each child under 18 and each senior with an annual income less than $40,000 have been promised to cover extra costs until the rate can be lowered.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Accused in suspected Shuswap home invasion faces additional charges

One of men charged in Dec. 28 incident faces four counts from two weeks earlier

Driver ticketed after rollover on Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Jeep Cherokee hit rock face before rolling multiple times

Foul play not currently suspected in death of man found near Sicamous

Body found in woods near vehicle linked to Edmonton police investigation of suspicious death

Boil water notice issued for North Shuswap community hall

Notice applies only to water system used by Scotch Creek facility

RCMP make request after safety flares prompt search on Shuswap Lake

Marine search and rescue crew finds boat unoccupied, no one in distress

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Summerland approves solar project

Despite community opposition, council voted 4-3 for Cartwright Mountain location

Police search for suspect in assault on woman in downtown Kelowna

Kelowna police received a report a woman had been assaulted by an unknown man on July 12

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Two positive COVID-19 cases at Oliver farm

The risk of exposure to the general public related to this farm is considered to be low

Oliver Town Hall closed to public as staffer displays COVID-19 symptoms

One staff member at Oliver Town Hall is being tested for coronavirus

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Horoscopes for the week of July 13

Weekly horoscopes by Morgan Fava

Most Read