With Canada Post operations potentially on the verge of grinding to a halt on Monday, here's what Canadians need to know about the postal service disruption.
Canada Post has said it will lock out its employees on Monday, as the postal service and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers remain without a contract. The postal service originally set Friday as the deadline, but extended it through the weekend in hopes of reaching a binding arbitration agreement.
Mail circulation has already dropped dramatically since last week, when the union entered a legal strike position. Customers were warned at the time that delivery could not be guaranteed beyond the week. However, a last trickle of deliveries are slipping through the system this week, as Canada Post waited a few days to schedule the lockout.
E-commerce deliveries have declined in volume by at least 75 per cent, businesses have cut their mailing volume in half, and letter mail volume has dropped by as much as 50 per cent at many facilities, according to Canada Post. And soon, they're expected to stop altogether.
It's unknown at this point how long a potential service disruption might last, but just to be safe, Canadians are being told to take their banking online, refrain from sending letters and use other services for absolutely essential deliveries.
What happens to my mail?
All letters and packages in the postal system will sit there until Canada Post and the union reach a new agreement. Essentially, if your mail isn't delivered by Friday, it'll be stuck in limbo. No new mail will be accepted for delivery.
What about my government cheque?
The Government of Canada has arranged for essential cheques to be delivered on 20th day of the month, so those in need will have the money they require. Child tax benefits, disability benefits, pension payments and veterans' benefits will all be delivered on that date. However, the government has also asked people to sign up for direct deposit, so they can receive their payments and benefits without waiting for the mail.
Canadians awaiting Employment Insurance cheques are encouraged to enroll for direct deposit. Those who cannot sign up are being told to call the EI Call Centre to have their cheque re-issued.
Students are encouraged to continue applying for loans and grants, and are being advised to send their documents by courier to the National Student Loans Service Centre. The government is also encouraging students to arrange for direct deposit to their bank account.
Service Canada says student loans, grants and apprentice loans will be delivered on the 20th of the month, for those who have not enrolled for direct deposit.
Payments are expected to be made on time, using either online or telephone banking.
The Canada Post lockout could mean a big headache for those waiting for a passport before leaving the country for a summer vacation. Anyone who needs a passport for travel in the next six weeks is advised to apply for one at a passport office. Those who will be travelling in more than six weeks can apply in person at a passport office or at a Service Canada outlet. Individuals who have already submitted their application and are waiting for their passport or travel document are being told to call 1-800-567-6868.
Don't expect any relief on your hydro bill or property taxes. All monthly payments are expected to be made on-time during the Canada Post service disruption, using either telephone, online or in-person banking at a bank branch. Some businesses also allow for customers to visit their offices to drop off payments in person.
The postal service disruption is coming at an inconvenient time for thousands of Amazon.ca customers, as the online retailer gears up for its second annual Prime Day sale, on July 12. Amazon has already started rolling out the deals, but it's also warning customers they may not get everything they want in a timely fashion. Amazon uses multiple delivery services, including Canada Post, and many of its sellers also use the service.
In anticipation of a Canada Post lockout, Amazon.ca has stopped shipping to PO boxes, pickup points and remote locations, "effective immediately and until further notice." Customers are being advised to update their shipping address to a deliverable location for any unshipped orders, so packages don't get stuck in the mail.
The company says it is taking measures to minimize the impact of the disruption, but it also advises customers to prepare for delivery delays, "whether you are buying from Amazon.ca or a third-party seller."
EBay has added a banner notice to the top of its Canadian and American websites for all web traffic from Canada, in its effort to keep customers apprised of the situation. The thin banner across the top of the page is easy to miss, but eBay also has a full FAQ page for buyers and sellers to find out what the service disruption means for them.
The site is encouraging its sellers to continue with business as usual, and asking buyers to be understanding about the delays. "Leave fair and honest feedback that reflects only the aspects of the transaction within the seller's control," eBay said on its FAQ page. Estimated delivery dates will be extended to reflect the service disruption, based on how long it lasts.
Buyers are encouraged to contact sellers about their delivery arrangements.