Cowichan Valley businesses bracing for Canada Post lockout [UPDATE]

There may be some extra costs for Jane Spencer if there is a disruption to postal service


Canada Post has extended its lockout notice period until after the weekend, following a request by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk, to both Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to submit to binding arbitration.

Canada Post extended the lockout notice period until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 11, meaning that no legal work disruption can occur before Monday, July 11.  In its announcement, Canada Post agreed to submit to binding arbitration and offered the extension to give CUPW time to consider the request of the Minister. CUPW has since declined the request of the Minister, citing the issue of pay equity as its reason.


There may be some extra costs for Jane Spencer if there is a disruption to postal service, but the Duncan businesswoman said she has no intention of passing them on to her customers.

Spencer, the owner of Fabrications clothing store on Kenneth Street, said if Canada’s postal service is curtailed this week as a result of a labour dispute, her suppliers will likely have to resort to using private delivery companies like FedEx and Purolator instead of Canada Post to get her inventories to her.

That’s more expensive, and Spencer expects those costs will be passed to her.

“I’ll absorb those costs myself rather than seeing them passed on to my customers,” she said.

“Call it good will, but I just don’t think it’s right to raise the prices.”

Spencer also said she expects getting her bills and invoices to where they need to go may be more difficult if mail is disrupted.

But she said many of her suppliers have already advised her to sign up online to complete these transactions if a mail disruption occurs.

“I don’t think it will have the same impacts as it did the last time,” she said.

Canada Post said it intends to lock out its workers starting July 8 after months of negotiations have failed to make a labour deal between the postal carrier and its largest union.

The last time Canada Post experienced a work stoppage was in 2011, which included 10 days of rotating strikes and a lockout before employees were legislated back to work by Ottawa.

While there may be some major disruptions of Canada Post’s services, the delivery of payment cheques deemed “essential”, including Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan payments, and Working Income Tax Benefit and Canada Child Benefit cheques, won’t be affected if there isn’t a last-minute move that could end the labour dispute.

Julie Scurr, chairwoman of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, said many small businesses in the Cowichan Valley will suffer in the event of a disruption of mail service.

She said many of them use Canada Post to send parcels out and have payments brought in.

“About 75 per cent of small businesses are still receiving payments by mail, so a disruption of the postal service could cause a big cash-flow problem for many of them,” Scurr said.

“The only advice I can give if there is a strike or a lock out is for local business people to get in touch with their MPs and tell them that it’s not suitable for their businesses. I think we would need to put the pressure on them to end it.”

Al, who asked that his last name not be used, is the operator of British Isles Motorcycles on Jubilee Street in Duncan.

He said he imports a lot of motorcycle parts from England for his customers, and sends many of the parts to buyers spread across the province.

Al said it would be a lot more expensive for him to have the parts delivered and sent out by private courier services than by Canada Post.

“I really don’t want to pass those extra costs to my customers,” Al said. “I expect I’ll have to eat those expenses if Canada Post’s services stop altogether. But they did it by rotation the last time, and it wasn’t so terrible.”