Mail will still be delivered on Monday, but the threat of a strike or lockout still looms as negotiations between Canada Post and its workers’ union continue. However, job action in 2016 may not have as much of an impact as it would have 20, or even 10 years ago.
Ian Lee is an associate professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. He’s studied Canada Post, and last year wrote a piece called “Is the cheque still in the mail?”
Lee said when there were postal strikes in the 1970s, it was a big deal.
“It brought down the payment system; it froze the payment system.”
However, as more and more business is done online, that is no longer the case.
“Five years ago, hardly anybody did their tax returns online. Five years later … 75 per cent of Canadians are filing online and not sending in their tax returns,” said Lee as an example.
Lee said Canada Post, like the newspaper industry, is in the middle of a digital deconstruction. He said in the past six years, a third of mail volume has disappeared.
“Young people and middle-aged people don’t write letters – they use social media, they use email, they use text, they use online banking.”
Though Lee did concede that some small businesses and some people who refuse to learn how to use the internet still rely on mail service.
Lee suggested Canada Post should restructure to move away from mail service, which is shrinking, to focus on parcel service, which he said is growing by 15 per cent a year.
Strike notice needs to be issued 72 hours ahead, so as of Sunday morning the earliest job action could happen is Wednesday.
Mitigating a postal strike
In preparing for a potential strike or lockout, governments are letting you know how to continue sending payments and getting bills, as payments will still be expected on time.
A disruption in mail service won’t affect the Saskatchewan Electronic Tax System, and the Ministry of Finance is encouraging people to sign up for that service, as well as email notifications for tax returns. Some banks can also process tax payments.
The government sent out June’s consumption tax returns a little early, so they should arrive before any job action. There are two offices in Saskatchewan, one in Regina and one in Saskatoon, where payments can be made in person.
Businesses getting tax refunds who do not have direct deposit will be given the option to set that up, or to have the refund mailed later, or business direct.
For those who receive payments from the Ministry of Social Services, while most customers have direct deposit any cheques mailed out were done so they would arrive before any disruption. Any other payments will be available for pick-up at ministry service centres.
When it comes to payments made to the City of Regina, whether it’s taxes or parking tickets, the city is asking you to not put the payments in the mail. They can be made in person at city hall or through online banking. It’s also reminding residents that if there is a postal disruption payments will still be expected to be made on time.