Look to local retailers in face of mail system work stoppages

While some Canadians may shrug off the impact of the current rotating strikes at Canada Post because most people don’t write traditional letters any more, the crunch is being felt by consumers and businesses — particularly with Christmas just over a month away.

The mail system may not be a chosen method for many to communicate, but it has been buoyed because it has been a consistent, affordable parcel delivery service. Parcels revenue for Canada Post surpassed $2 billion last year for the first time and allowed the company to turn a tidy multi-million dollar profit. Halts to that system can cause problems for businesses, particularly those in rural areas that require shipping to reach their markets or to bring in stock. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses say their 110,000 members have lost, on average, $3,000 each since the strikes began. It would only seem logical that number will rise as Canadians turn to more expensive courier options or shy away from e-commerce in favour of returning to bricks-and-mortar shops.

It’s time for the federal government to step in and encourage a resolution to this labour dispute in order to reassure confidence in an essential service and to support businesses who are already faced with tough decisions about the margin of their costs they can pass on to consumers. Ideally, both sides in the dispute will agree to mediators and come to some resolution. If not, binding arbitration seems like a reasonable avenue.

There is also the consideration that the longer the dispute takes place, businesses could find alternative solutions and leave Canada Post with fewer transactions, which would have to be seen as a lose-lose scenario. Surely, there’s middle ground to be found on issues like hours of work, overtime pay, and job security. There’s no doubt the carriers’ leverage is at a high this time of year, but they’ll be impacted, too, should the dispute drag on. The carrier has already said it can’t guarantee parcels will arrive in time for Christmas, meaning business will be lost.

Meanwhile, as that all plays out, consumers are faced with the task of deciding how to spend their hard-earned money at a time of year when they often spend more freely. At the risk of harming the valued Canadian postal service, it is strongly suggested they look close to home.While some might value the variety of goods and prices they can find online enough to pay higher rates and go through more hassle to get their parcels, one can hope this will give that extra little nudge to embrace the convenience of shopping locally this holiday season.

Prince Edward County retailers and artisans, as well as those in the neighbouring areas, do their best to provide service and selection throughout the year. By turning to them, consumers can not only find the quality items they hope to give as gifts or use for that favourite recipe, but they’re also supporting people who offer sustainable jobs in these communities, who fund arts, sports, and community programming here, and who pay taxes to keep municipal services affordable. The more business they can do, the chances are better they can keep prices affordable, adapt their business to meet consumers’ demands, and offer a choice about where to shop in the future.

– Adam Bramburger