Custom Woollen Mills manager Maddy Purves-Smith, who is struggling with shipping options during the company’s busiest time of year, packages an order at the facility near Carstairs, Alta., Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Custom Woollen Mills manager Maddy Purves-Smith, who is struggling with shipping options during the company’s busiest time of year, packages an order at the facility near Carstairs, Alta., Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canada Post backlog, Greyhound exit creating headaches ahead of the holidays

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month

Jennifer Critch hopes to spend Christmas morning watching her two young daughters play with a brand new train table.

But the southwestern Ontario mom is getting anxious the toy won’t be delivered in time by Canada Post, which says it is trying to clear an unprecedented backlog following a weeks-long labour disruption.

READ MORE: Canada Post union issues strike notice

Canada Post’s woes, plus Greyhound’s exit from Western Canada in October, are creating headaches for many Canadians ahead of the holiday season.

Critch’s daughters, who are three and 18 months, are transfixed by the train set at their local library every time they visit and she wanted to get them something similar for home.

“It was going to be their big Christmas gift this year,” she said. “I was hoping to set it up and have them wake up to it Christmas morning.”

RELATED: Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid rotating strikes

RELATED: Canada Post says it lost $242-million in Q2 of 2018

Critch doesn’t drive and lives in a rural area, so online shopping seemed like a stress-free option. But the estimated delivery date keeps slipping while the package sits in a warehouse an hour away in Mississauga, Ont.

“I’m OK if I get it Christmas Eve,” she said. “I just want it before Christmas.”

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month after five weeks of rotating strikes over pay equity, safety and other concerns.

Canada Post is dealing with a parcel volume two to three times higher than normal for this time of year, said spokesman Jon Hamilton. The backlog of six million packages is concentrated in major processing centres such as Toronto and Vancouver.

Guarantees that a parcel will be delivered within a specific window have been suspended until further notice.

“We’re doing everything possible to deliver as much as possible, but the backlogs and the unevenness mean delivery is going to be very unpredictable,” said Hamilton. ”We will deliver a lot before Christmas, but we’re continuing to monitor to see what we might not get to before Christmas.”

READ MORE: Greyhound to end bus service in B.C., Alberta

RELATED: Wilson’s bus company looks to expand into void left by Greyhound

The Crown corporation has rented 1,400 additional vehicles for deliveries and 500 more for moving items between facilities. It has also added 4,000 seasonal employees.

But protests at Canada Post facilities and the prospect of nasty winter weather mean there’s no telling when it will be back to business as usual.

Union national president Mike Palecek disputes the rotating strikes caused any backlogs.

“They wanted to develop a line to create a sense of urgency around back-to-work legislation, which has always been Canada Post’s only game at the bargaining table,” he said.

On the delivery delays, Palecek said: “This sounds to me like an issue of poor management.”

Another popular shipping mode — Greyhound — is no longer an option west of Thunder Bay, Ont. Its passenger buses would often tow cargo trailers to small towns, but the carrier abandoned all but one route in Western Canada in October. Only the U.S.-run Vancouver-Seattle route remains.

Greyhound’s move has driven up costs for Custom Woolen Mills, which processes wool harvested from farms around the country into blankets, socks and other goods in a rural area north of Calgary. It’s the busiest time of year for the family-run business.

“Wool’s got a lot of volume. You can’t squish it down. It’s not like sending a pound of butter. A pound of wool is pretty big,” said manager Maddy Purves-Smith.

She figures the mill is spending 30 per cent to 40 per cent more on shipping by courier and truck now that Greyhound is out of the picture.

“Greyhound had pretty great rates and they also went all over the country. A big challenge that we’re having now with them gone is that there aren’t a ton of couriers that will service rural areas and places that are a little further off the beaten track.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

“Three Generations Ribbon Skirt” sewn by Melody Cardinal and photographed by Darlene Hildebrant. (Photo submitted)
Ponoka and Maskwacis women share meaning of ribbon skirts

By Chevi Rabbit For Ponoka News Indigenous ribbon skirts have become a… Continue reading

File photo
New skate and ski trails in the City of Wetaskiwin this winter

Outdoor skating rinks open in the City and County of Wetaskiwin.

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. (File photo)
Wolf Creek and Wetaskiwin school boards ‘reassured’ by letter from LaGrange

Boards urge the Alberta government to honour commitments to Indigenous peoples

Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive. File photo.
Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive

Local Wetaskiwin businesses set up as toy drive drop off locations.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Judge finds former Alberta Mountie not guilty of sexually assaulting colleague

Jason Andrew Tress, who is 34, was stationed in the northern Alberta community of Faust at the time of the alleged assault

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Alberta set to retire coal power by 2023, ahead of 2030 provincial deadline

In 2014, 55 per cent of Alberta’s electricity was produced from 18 coal-fired generators

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Lacombe Police and RCMP have charged four people and seized three loaded guns and a small amount of methamphetamine following a traffic stop on Dec. 2. (Photo contributed)
Lacombe Police and RCMP arrest four people after joint investigation

The operation resulted in multiple loaded weapons seized and 116 charges

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Most Read