Canada Post work stoppage could have serious implications for university applicants
'I understand the legality of it but special circumstances call for special action,' says student
The looming Canada Post work stoppage is causing headaches for a Nova Scotia high school student who has sensitive academic documents tied up in the postal system.
Ali Aghayan, 18, graduated from Northumberland Regional High School in Westville, N.S., on Tuesday. Pending his final marks, he's been accepted into the University of Toronto's management and international business co-op program.
After receiving his final transcript following graduation, Aghayan said he went to the post office Wednesday and got a tracking number so the document would arrive before the University of Toronto's July 14 deadline.
When he went home and read the news, Aghayan said he realized a Canada Post strike or lockout could mean missing that deadline, potentially jeopardizing his acceptance to the university, which is conditional on the school receiving his transcript by July 14.
"Obviously, I was oblivious to what was going on with the whole situation with the strike," he said.
Canada Post workers could be off the job as early as this weekend, although management or labour must give 72 hours notice ahead of a lockout or strike. A work stoppage would halt all delivery and services through Canada Post.
'Letter was basically right there in front of me'
Aghayan returned to the post office to try to get his transcript back so he could mail it with another carrier, but it's against Canada Post policy to give a letter to anyone but the intended recipient.
"That's upsetting because the letter was basically right in front of me and they were unwilling to pass it back to me. I understand the legality of it but special circumstances call for special action," said Aghayan.
"And a pending strike in a time in my life where I'm about to go to university — and this is a very important time in my life — that is a special situation but I guess they failed to see the gravity of the situation."
He called Canada Post's customer service line, but was ultimately told he couldn't get his letter back before this weekend.
'This would affect all students across Canada'
When Aghayan graduated, he only received one copy of his final transcript. When he tried to get another copy, he said the school's computer system still listed his transcript as "marks in progress," and it's not clear when that problem would be resolved.
With most Canadian high school students graduating at the end of June, Aghayan said he's likely not the only person in this situation.
"At the end of the day, this whole situation isn't about me, isn't about my situation. This is a Canada-wide impending strike. This would affect all students across Canada," he said.
"Canada Post is a Crown corporation and therefore they do have … some sort of responsibility to the Canadian people."
Final marks pending
The University of Toronto's director of admissions told CBC News the school is open to working with students if a Canada Post work stoppage happens.
"I think universities appreciate the difficulties some students might have," said Merike Remmel.
She said most high school students haven't yet received their final transcripts, so U of T hasn't heard from many applicants concerned about Canada Post.
If a work stoppage goes on for several weeks, the university would respond to students who say they can't send in their final marks and find a solution, Remmel said.
"We would see what the best option would be for that student," she said.
Remmel said high schools in Ontario and the U.S. report their students' final marks electronically, so the work stoppage won't affect them.
90% of union members vote to strike
This is potentially the fifth widespread disruption to mail delivery in just over three decades in Canada.
The last labour disruption, in 2011, lasted three weeks. Postal workers were ordered back when the federal government tabled back-to-work legislation. Prior strikes have been held in 1987, 1991 and 1997.
"Right now I'm banking on an agreement being reached and that doesn't seem that possible," said Aghayan.
Ninety per cent of union members voted in favour of a strike, and Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra officially rejected a letter requesting a two-week extension for the July 2 lockout.
The work stoppage would affect approximately 50,000 workers across Canada, including mail delivery personnel.