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

The Premier Hotel on Summerland’s Main Street and the taxi were owned by Bill and Lydia Johnston. Today, the building is Sass Fashions in Summerland. H.S. Kenyon, who moved the building to Summerland from Midway, continued with building construction. His family now operates Greyback Construction. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Two former Summerland hotel buildings have been moved over the years

Transport of buildings is part of community’s history

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Caroline McKay
COLUMN: Bring books out of hibernation for the new year

Plenty of lesser-known works from famous authors available from the library

One Okanagan man bought and delivered enough food for 10 Christmas dinners for families and individuals in need. (Bruce Shouldice photo)
Okanagan man makes a difference at Christmas

Columnist Carole Fawcett shines light on Good Samaritan

The Peach is looking ready for its COVID Christmas. (Monique Tamminga/Black Press)
T’was the night before Christmas in the Okanagan

It’s true that this year has had sadness aplenty, we’ll never forget the year 2020

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
More than 20 days have passed since the last case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Lakeside Manor. (File photo)
Salmon Arm retirement facility reopens social areas after COVID-19

More than 20 days have passed since last confirmed case at Lakeside Manor

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read