The Canada Post Strike And Its Toll On Canadian Small Business

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The rotating Canada Post strike is on its 5th week and with huge shopping days, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up, not to mention the Christmas season, it appears that the government has had enough. 

On Thursday morning, Employment Minister Patty Hajdu tabled a bill in the House of Commons that could soon see Canada Post workers forced back to work. 

The postal workers union (CUPW) is accusing Canada Post of using the government to do its “dirty work” by not participating in meaningful negotiations by just waiting it out until the the government was forced to step in.

The main sticking points in the negotiations pertain to the increase of parcel mail, unpaid overtime, and a hazardous work environment with postal works being 5x more likely to injure themselves on the job than the national average. 

We also have a responsibility to all Canadians and to businesses that drive our economy, and when the consequences of work stoppage become so great that they begin to result in serious or lasting harm, we must act.

~ Employment Minister Patty Hajdu

Canadians have certainly started to scramble as the strike continues. People are concerned that their bill and rent payments won’t be making it in on time. It is advisable that you purchase tracking with your letters so that you can prove when you mailed your payment and so that you are able to be informed as to where your payment may be in the backlogged system. 

Likely the hardest hurt by the continued strike will be Canadian small businesses that heavily rely on Canada Post to deliver their products to their customer base. The alternatives are extremely expensive and just not feasible for all small retailers.

I spoke with Stacey Bennett of Ice Cream Tees, who sells both on Etsy and on her own dedicated page at icecreamtees.com, about how the strike has effected her business and what, if any, steps she is taking to get her products out to her customers this holiday season. 

“When selling a lower priced item, the shipping options within Canada and to international locations are limited. No buyer is that jazzed over a $15 item to want to pay $45 or more for a courier to deliver it. I’m grateful that I’m close to a major city, and that a shipping service like Chit Chat Express is available to me as it by-passes the Canadian mail service all together and takes parcels directly to USPS, so my US based sales are still strong. I’ve seen a sharp decline in my Canadian orders, which is understandable. I hope that shoppers who love handmade unique items will look to local, in person market places and shop from their neighbors.”

Stacey also wrote a note to all Canadians about her hopes for shoppers over the holiday season and the upcoming major shopping days. 

Dear Canada, With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming in fast if we all keep shopping online it will be like we’re all taking a collective dump into an already clogged, backing up, pouring on the floor and running sewage into the hall overflowing toilet of Canada’s postal system.

So – a friendly note to my Canadian Friends – this is THE year to shop local! The Canada Post strike has delayed parcel distribution by at least 30 days! Packages will be managed as first in/first out (so if you’ve been waiting for a package – hopefully it will get cleared up in the next month. If you order new packages, it will sit on trucks and trailers until the old mail is dealt with first.)

Sure – many retailers have arranged other courier services, but the alternatives are already over loaded, behind and not able to keep delivery standards. It’s also not practical for lower value items to be shipped with a high priced courier service so please keep that in mind when shopping that if your e-commerce retailer does not offer an alternative, they likely have considered all the options and have accepted that there will be lower online sales this year from Canadian shoppers.

While gifting should not be the focus of our holiday season, if you want to ensure all your gifts are wrapped and under the tree in time then hit your local shops, vendor shows, and pop up markets so you won’t be disappointed! Or keep shopping online and consider wrapping a picture of the item and it can be enjoyed whenever it arrives.

I agree with Stacey and hope that Canadians will take this situation as an opportunity to go out and actually connect with local makers when buying their Christmas gifts this year. 

Personally, I still bought the majority of my gifts on Etsy and intend to present a card with a picture of the gift, should the packages not arrive on time. Not exactly the same thing, but this year it will have to do. 

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Allisonxo is a she/her identifying feminist from Toronto, Canada who is a lifelong crafter and lover of vegan food and thrifting.

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