Manitoba

Frustration mounts as parcel deliveries delayed before Christmas

People who bought presents online may not have them in time to put under the Christmas tree as Canada Post continues to deal with a record volume of parcels creating delays.

Union says physical distancing means fewer employees on the floor to sort mail

Canada Post says it is experiencing a record volume of parcels. The union representing postal workers says volume has been high since the pandemic started in March, and there has been a backlog since Black Friday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

David Harrison thought he was ahead of the game when he bought his Christmas gifts online in November.

But with just two days left before Christmas, the Halifax resident is losing hope his wife's present from Winnipeg — along with other gifts — will be delivered in time.

"I don't know if they're going to arrive at all because I don't know where they are, but basically I might be handing out a few boxes that have a printed picture of a gift in it saying 'I owe you this and hopefully it'll arrive sometime in January.'"

Harrison said his wife's gift went in the mail on Nov. 27 in Winnipeg, and on Dec. 7 a tracking number showed it had arrived in Montreal — where it appears to have stayed, leaving him frustrated.

WATCH / Frustration mounts as parcel deliveries delayed across Canada:

Frustration mounts as parcel deliveries delayed before Christmas

2 years ago
Duration 1:46
People who bought presents online may not have them in time to put under the Christmas tree as Canada Post continues to deal with a record volume of parcels creating delays.

"You don't get any update about when that might actually be leaving or what's going on, so you're just left in the lurch hoping it will get here by Dec. 25."

The union representing postal workers said Tuesday there were at least 100 semi-trailers filled with mail waiting to be sorted in Winnipeg.

"It's very hectic," said Cameron Fortier, vice president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers local in Winnipeg.

"We are working lots of overtime hours at the plant, letter carriers on the street are working tons of overtime as well to get as much as we can out before Christmas."

Fortier said postal workers have been slammed with a higher volume of mail since the pandemic started in March, and in Winnipeg there has been a backlog since Black Friday.

Canadians from coast to coast are taking their frustrations with Canada Post delays to Twitter. 

Faith Co tweeted her frustration recently. She is waiting for her parents' gifts to arrive at her home in Winnipeg. She said they too are stuck in Montreal.

These trucks are filled with parcels waiting to be sorted at the Winnipeg Canada Post mail headquarters. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

"With everything being closed, with COVID going on they knew that everyone was going to be shopping online, so it frustrates me why they didn't anticipate this demand much sooner and planned and prepared for it," she said.

Canada Post said in a statement it is experiencing unprecedented amounts of mail and delivered a record of 10 million parcels in the last week.

"Holiday parcel volumes started at least a week earlier this year than usual and have continued the entire season. That's why we started encouraging Canadians in early October to start shopping and shipping early," said Canada Post spokesperson Valérie Chartrand.

Fortier said the big problem is staff are having to practice physical distancing at work and can no longer cram inside sorting facilities across the country.

David Harrison is waiting for his wife's present to arrive from Winnipeg where he says it was put in the mail at the end of November. (CBC)

"It's a space issue. We can only process so much and we can only ship out so much at a time."

He asks Canadians waiting for parcels to be patient and keep their homes clear of snow for carriers who could still come by before Christmas.

"Keep your lights on, keep your sidewalks shoveled and we'll get as much done as we can."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg. Since joining CBC in 2016, he's covered several major stories. Some of his career highlights have been documenting the plight of asylum seekers leaving America in the dead of winter for Canada and the 2019 manhunt for two teenage murder suspects. In 2021, he won an RTDNA Canada award for his investigative reporting on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which triggered change. Have a story idea? Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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