Canada Post has moved up parcel delivery deadlines within Canada in response to unprecedented holiday demand during COVID-19 but is still telling Canadians to expect delays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canada Post has moved up parcel delivery deadlines within Canada in response to unprecedented holiday demand during COVID-19 but is still telling Canadians to expect delays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Salmon Arm, Revelstoke postal workers ask for patience, kindness during busy season

Canada Post union rep says processing plants backed up by 200 trucks on average

If you’ve been tracking your parcel through Canada Post, wondering when it will arrive, you’re not alone.

Significantly increased parcel volumes and pandemic-related health and safety restrictions have made for a challenging Christmas season for Canada Post.

On Dec. 14, the Crown corporation announced holiday parcel shipping deadlines had been adjusted in response to unprecedented demand. In a related public release, Canada Post explained, “not only are Canadians shopping online in record numbers, they’ve also seen a “huge influx of customers at post offices shipping gifts to replace their traditional holiday visits.”

“This weekend, we delivered 1.1 million parcels across the country and expect heavy deliveries to continue through this week and next,” reads the release. “Even with processing and delivery moving well with additional resources, there is a limit to what we can safely process and deliver. Customers should expect delays.”

Canada Post explained employees at its plants have been working around the clock, processing record volumes.

That increased volume is being seen – and felt – at Canada Post’s offices in Salmon Arm and Revelstoke, where workers have also been putting in long shifts to meet the demand.

“We’re used to heavy loads at Christmas and we’re used to working overtime at Christmas. This year, it’s an extreme amount of overtime for everyone it seems,” said Janice Jarvis, president for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 823, Salmon Arm/Revelstoke.

In Revelstoke, where Jarvis said they don’t have as many rural suburban mail carriers – those who deliver parcels and mail to neighbourhood post boxes – parcels have been piling up.

“We’re begging people to come and pick up their stuff because we don’t know where we’re going to store it,” said Jarvis.

Regarding the processing plants, Jarvis said they’ve been backed up by about 200 trucks on average. And should even a single case of COVID-19 be confirmed at one, the ramifications can be far reaching.

“In Vancouver, I know they’re backed up, they were saying 200 to 250 trucks is an average – they’re processing as fast as they can while keeping to the health and safety of employees,” said Janice, adding she wasn’t aware of any plants going down in the West due to COVID-19. But she said plants in Montreal and Mississauga have had cases.

Read more: Sending holiday cheer this year? Canada Post bumps up deadlines amid unprecedented season

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“Mississauga is basically the hub of Canada Post for pretty much anything… and they’ve had several cases. It may only be in one section, but once you shut something down and deep clean it, it takes people off the line, people are off work.”

Parcel delays and public health restrictions and requirements around COVID-19, such as having to wear a mask when visiting the post office, have created tension among members of the public, some of whom have been taking it out on postal workers.

“The aggression towards postal clerks since this began has gone up almost 100 per cent,” said Jarvis, adding Canada Post launched a campaign calling on the public to be kind and be prepared.

During this time, Canada Post is asking for the public’s patience, a sentiment Janice echoes.

“Everyone that is working for Canada Post is doing the best they can to get things to where they need to go,” she explained. “And things do happen, especially when people are working 12 to 14 hour days on a continuous basis with no days off. It does happen and I just say have patience and be kind to us.

“A majority of us order online too and we’re waiting for packages. We don’t get any special service by Canada Post. I get it, it’s people’s Christmas presents and stuff like that. We’re trying the best that we can.”

Canada Post noted on-time delivery guarantees have been suspended since March 18, “due to the unique circumstances we are operating in this year.”

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