Kevin Trew with the Town of Carrot River thinks Canada Post's centralized sorting system is inefficient.

In the past few years, the national mail delivery services has moved to a sorting system that sends all mail to centralized locations where mail is sorted automatically.

In Carrot River, that means if you're sending a letter to someone else in the town, it will go to Saskatoon first before it reaches the recipient. Saskatoon is three hours away from Carrot River.

Utilities disconnected due to late mail

The sorting system came to Trew's attention recently when the town office posted 400 mail items on Thursday, Nov. 9, and the recipients didn't receive the items until one week later, Thursday, Nov. 16.

Some of those mail items included notices to people who were delinquent in paying their bills that they would have their water disconnected.

"In this case, the time sensitivity was something that we weren't aware of, so we ended up disconnecting quite a few people's utilities because of delinquent payments," Trew said.

When they found out the problem was due to late mail, they refunded the reconnect fee.

Mail goes on a six-hour drive

He noted that he thinks the local Carrot River Canada Post staff does great work. He thought there may have been some miscommunication about the change to the new system.

"Us as a government organization as well, definitely people can find inefficiencies in our organization as well, so I don't want to come across as the pot calling the kettle black here, but at the same point, I look at this as a huge inefficiency…. I don't believe it is a very efficient method of delivering mail, sending it on a six-hour drive."

Trew says the Town of Carrot River sends 500 to 1,000 letter mail items per month, and he says up to 95 per cent of those are local.

An isolated incident

Darcia Kmet, with Canada Post media relations, wrote in an email that this is an isolated incident.

"If mail is dropped off at the post office before the cut-off time‎, it is to be delivered within the delivery standard, which is two days."

Canada Post has been phasing in this system across Canada over several years, and Kmet said the change came to parts of Saskatchewan this summer.

"As the change is now taking effect, there may be a period of adjustment for some employees, but it's always short-term."

'Good business sense'

Aurélie Walsh, director of communications with Canada Post, said using this system is the difference is between sorting mail manually by hand, or using the sorting technology in Saskatoon.

"Basically, this is to ensure that regardless of the address or destination, it's processed the same way, so all customers receive the same service," Walsh said.

She said the switch to a centralized sorting system was a business decision.

"You think of one letter, but we're thinking of volumes and volumes across the country," Walsh said. "From a methodology perspective, it makes good business sense."