Canada Post cancels parcel surcharge in Fort McMurray

Starting today, it will cost more to send parcels to Fort McMurray.

$5 surcharge was intended to go towards retaining staff

Schoena Strudwick, owner of Edmonton maternity-wear store Yo Mama, nearly dropped Canada Post in favour of a courier company. (CBC)

Canada Post has withdrawn a $5 surcharge on parcels headed to Fort McMurray just a few hours after the extra fee was introduced Monday. 

"Canada Post will rely on its normal pricing mechanisms for parcels to ensure we continue to offer good value in the highly-competitive parcel delivery market," the company said in a news release just before 1 p.m. MT.

Canada Post said the fee was necessary to retain staff in the booming municipality driven by oilsands development.

"It is difficult to bring on new staff," said spokesperson Jon Hamilton. "It is difficult to, once you have staff, to maintain them. There are other opportunities available to them."

High staff turn-over has created delivery problems in Fort McMurray, he said, though the hiring of a third-party contractor is helping to improve service.

Business owners called the surcharge unfair.

Colleen Tatum has operated a small business selling truck accessories in Fort McMurray for 10 years. She relies on Canada Post because private couriers are too expensive, she said.

"We always have the problem of attracting and retaining staff and this $5 surcharge is just another thing that we're going to have to somehow find a way to absorb and still be able to offer comparable service to our customers as they would find in Edmonton."

The fee was to take effect today for commercial customers and Feb.10th for all other parcels destined for Fort McMurray.

But Canada Post said introduction of the surcharge "unfortunately caused concern and confusion in the market.

"As a result, Canada Post has withdrawn the surcharge."

Tatum is relieved that Canada Post changed its mind. 

"Their staff really do deserve to work in a place that gives them the tools to be successful so they do have a hard road ahead of them," she said.

"But I'm very glad that the consumers of Fort McMurray aren't going to be the ones that are being penalized for those hardships that Canada Post face.”

The reversal was also welcomed by Schoena Strudwick, owner of Edmonton maternity store Yo Mama, which sends about $1,500 a month in merchandise to customers in Fort McMurray.

The surcharge would have hurt so Strudwick considered switching to a courier company. 

"Canada Post would then lose our business just because we're gonna try and do the best for us just in terms of financials and we would have switched to FedEx."

Strudwick is staying with Canada Post for now, but she wonders if the surcharge will come up again. 



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