Potential postal disruption worries local businesses
By Angelica Ingram
Published July 12, 2016
Wayne Lavery is watching the negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers closely.
The owner/operator of one of Haliburton’s largest printing businesses, Patient News, Lavery said a stoppage of postal delivery could have a significant impact on his business.
“All our client mailings are on two-week cycles,” he said. “We currently have 70 mailing jobs that are on hold.”
A dispute between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers threatened regular mail delivery last week.
Negotiations between the two sides have been ongoing for the past seven months, with Canada Post saying it would lock out its 50,000 employees, according to media reports.
However the threat of a lockout was dropped on Sunday, to allow both sides to continue negotiations.
This was welcome news for businesses such as Patient News.
As a publisher of printed products for the dental industry, Patient News mails approximately two million pieces of mail a month, 10 per cent of which is done through Canada Post.
The other 90 per cent is sent to American clients through the United States Postal Service, which will not be impacted by the Canada Post disruption.
As the local business deals with only direct mail, courier services are not an option, said Lavery.
“Canada Post has the monopoly on that [direct mail],” he said. “We’re just warehousing everything ... [if there is a disruption] there will be a little bit of a backlog but hopefully everything will get through before the end of the month.”
Lavery said he has been communicating with his clients, to keep them up to date on the situation.
“It’s something that’s obviously concerning for anybody that relies on direct mail,” he said.
Another local business reliant on direct mail are local newspapers the Haliburton County Echo, Minden Times and County Life.
Publisher David Zilstra has also been preparing for the worst case scenario and says “short term plans are in place.”
“We’ve made arrangements with flyer customers on a short term basis to distribute at their locations,” he said. “That’s if there is a postal disruption.”
The municipality of Dysart et al is in the same boat, facing significant problems if a disruptions occurs for a lengthy period of time.
On the municipality’s website, www.dysartetal.ca, there is information regarding what to do in the event of a disruption.
With the next property tax payment due on July 13, municipal treasurer Barbara Swannell said there are lots of ways to make the payment that do not involve mailing a cheque.
“The concern for us is our first due date for the final tax bill,” she said.
Options for payment include telephone and Internet banking, courier services, payment in person at the municipal office or at an after-hours drop box located at the office.
The municipality also offers pre-authorized payment plans.
The treasurer says while there is a grace period to get your tax payment in, any past due bills begin to acquire interest charges after July 29.
The municipality asks anyone who mails their payment to contact the office at 705-457-1740 to confirm receipt.
The most recent tax bills were sent at the end of May, which means there is no immediate issue with the billing, as it is done on a bi-annual basis, said Swannell.
However there is concern regarding invoicing that the municipality receives, as they issue payment with a cheque in the mail, said Swannell.
“Local people we try and contact them to let them know they can pick up the cheque at the municipal office,” she said.
The municipality will consider using courier services if need be, said the treasurer.
Member services representative for the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce, Autumn Smith sent out an email last week regarding the potential postal disruption and reminded members there are many options to avoid being stuck if the worst case scenario occurs.
One of the member benefits the local chamber offers is a discount on Purolator and UPS services.
Other options include setting up online payment options.
Smith said members have expressed concern over the potential disruption, specifically the uncertainty of it.
“We don’t really know how it’s going to affect us yet, how long it’s going to last, if it’s even going to happen,” she said.
One of the common concerns among small businesses is the cash flow stoppage that could occur.
“That’s why we’re recommending to our members to cover all their bases and set themselves up online. These days it’s relatively easy to do,” said Smith, adding the chamber is happy to help them with this. Other options include direct deposit or e-transfer.
“If they have clients that need to pay them then they should be letting them know there are other billing options,” she said. “That way you don’t have to fully rely on getting things in the mail.”
According to media reports, mail deemed essential will not be affected. This includes child tax benefits, disability benefits, Old Age Security Pension, Canada Pension Plan benefits and benefits for veterans.