Why Does Canada Post Take So Long?

Canada Post Founded over a hundred and fifty years ago in 1867, the original post operator for Canada was Royal Mail Canada. Rebranding in the late 1960s renamed the postal system to Canada Post. In 1981, the Canada Post Corporation Act abolished the Post Office Department and created a new postal service. Today, the primary postal service operator is Canada Post Corporation which is a Crown corporation. The change that took place due to this act was more than the name. It changed the direction of the postal service to safeguarding the postal systems’ financial security and independence. This act was prompted by the events in the 1970s with major labor strikes and crippling deficits of $600 million by 1981. The government sought to make the post services self-governing and to financially compete with private courier companies. Also, legislation was needed to ensure all Canadians have basic post service despite where they live. Other changes have been implemented throughout the years to improve service.

Why Does Canada Post Take So Long?

There are some prominent factors that cause delays in the Canada Post service: not fulfilling mailing requirements and following postal guidelines; costs and financial obligations, change in mail type and volume; labor disputes; and delivery delays.

1. Customers Not Following Mailing Requirements

Canada Post serves over 16 million addresses or about 5 million homes because only about one-third of the population gets their mail delivered to their door. The rest get mail delivered to their community, apartment, and rural mailboxes. A total mail volume of over 8 billion pieces of mail including almost 300 million parcels and over 3 billion letters were delivered. Customers mail everything from live animals to medicine in all sorts of packaging. Also, the Canada Post has regulations about what can be mailed such as hazardous materials. This amount of mail takes time to be processed and customers that are not meeting the requirements could cause delays in delivery or even result in lost mail. Meeting simple guidelines for mailing will decrease the possibilities of delays.
  • Ensure the items mailed are acceptable and can be mailed under the Canadian legislation. Prohibited items will not be delivered.
  • Choose the appropriate service and delivery systems such as Priority or regular Parcel.
  • Accurately calculate the weight and size of mail and packages before mailing.
  • Label correctly and check that all the information required is clear and readable. Also, include information labels such as “fragile”, “perishable”, or “live animals inside”.
  • Secure labels and packaging with packing tape and other appropriate materials so packages stay closed.
  • Wrap mail in the proper box, tube, or other packaging so the item won’t be damaged or lost.
  • Leaky packages or packages with foul odors will not be delivered.
  • All the mail sent outside of Canada must have a “Customs Declaration” form as part of the Canada Post shipping label.
  • Use the online tracking service provided by canadapost.ca to keep track of mail and promptly find delayed or lost packaging.

2. Operating Costs

Labor costs for the Canada Post are around 41 percent higher than comparable businesses in the private sector. As many as 15,000 Canada Post employees may retire from the company in the next five years which adds to pension costs. Canada Post has a $6.5 billion solvency pension deficit. Canada Post is required to deliver mail and parcels and provide services to every address in Canada regardless of the cost. In addition, the number of delivery addresses is increasing while customers are using the postal service less due to the decrease of paper billing, emails, and other paperless technical transactions. It costs an average of about $283.00 per address each year for the Canada Post to provide door-to-door delivery service, $127.00 for apartment lobby mailboxes, $108.00 for community mailboxes, and $179.00 for rural mailboxes. In order to meet financial obligations, rising costs of mail processing and deliveries, labor strikes and costs, pension obligations, and the change in the number of mail versus parcels; have resulted in cuts in employee hours, labor layoffs, cuts and changes in postal services- which means delays in post services.

3. Changes in Mail Type and Volume

In 2012, Canada Post delivered a record number of parcels, one million in a single day on two days in December. Those numbers have steadily increased each year since then. The parcel delivery business has increased due to the popularity of online businesses and shopping. Estimates predict that the volume of mail will drop more than twenty-five percent in the next seven years and parcel volumes will continue to rise. The change in the types of postal deliveries from letters to parcels means that Canada Post is under constant change. The changes mean that new facilities and, equipment are required to process, track, and deliver the different types of packages. Also, employee training and policy changes are necessary. These types of major changes are disruptive to the normal daily processing of mail and bring added costs, So, other changes are needed to compensate such as cutting door to door delivery in favor of unpopular ideas such as community mailbox stations.

4. Labor Disputes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers was founded in 1965 and later merged with the Letter Carriers Union of Canada has over 67, 000 members that represent four worker groups.
    • Group 1 -inside workers such as postal clerks and mail handlers;
    • Group 2-outside workers such as letter carriers and motorized service;
    • Group 3– General and technical labors such as mechanics and electricians
    • Group 4-Electronics specialist. Also, Private sector employees are represented such as cleaners, couriers, drivers, warehouse workers, and printers.
Strikes and lockouts have halted the mail services throughout the years. There have been over 19 strikes, lockouts, and walkouts. Recent disputes: include the 2018 strike where Canadian Post workers have organized rotating strikes nationwide, mainly in the processing centers. This affected Christmas deliveries, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday online purchases. There was a 30-day backlog of mail that was stored in 600 trailers at distribution centers. From 2019 to the present, there are still negotiations over postal workers’ contracts and working hours.

Causes of Delivery Delays

Delays in post deliveries can be caused by many different factors. weather, construction, relocation or closures of postal facilities, labor strikes, accidents, policy changes, and unexpected natural disasters. Other reasons for delays;
  • Time-sensitive parcels were given priority and others are processed on a daily basis.
  • Backlogs due to postal workers’ union’s activities such as strikes and other labor disruptions.
  • Packages from Asia are given a low priority because the country doesn’t pay shipping costs as stated in international postal treaties.
  • Customs may hold up some packages depending on the circumstances.
  • Some areas are difficult to deliver due to physical terrain or are remote.
  • The volume of deliveries and the capacity of the Canada Post to deliver are out of sync.
  • Employee training issues slow processing due to mistakes.
  • Letters and packages are not labeled and packaged correctly.
  • Customer service representatives give out incorrect information to customers which slow the processing of mail and packages.
  • Delivery attempts are a major complaint by customers, stating that not enough effort to deliver mail and packages were made such as ringing a doorbell and waiting for someone to answer to receive the package.
Examples of current delays in the delivery of international mail that effects the following countries:
  • Saudi Arabia. Yellow Alert. Mail and parcel services to this country are delayed because of precautionary measures taken by this country authorities to contain the coronavirus.
  • China, Hong Kong, and Macao. Yellow Alert. Canada Post is attempting to accept mail and parcels for delivery to these countries, but senders should expect significant delays due to efforts to contain the impact of the coronavirus. Also, there is limited air transportation available.
  • Mongolia. Red alert. Canada Post can not accept mail or parcels for this country due to service disruptions caused by the closing of the Mongol Post international mail center.
  • Italy. Yellow alert. Significant delays due to precautionary measures of the Italian government to contain the coronavirus. This includes the closing of the Poste Italians.
  • The United Kingdom. Yellow alert. Delays experienced due to heavy snow and rainfall since February and have affected postal deliveries.
  • Poland. Yellow alert. Delays can be expected for mail and parcels sent to this country due to the relocation of the Airmail unit at Warsaw airport.
  • The Philippines. Yellow alert. Delays to this country are expected due to the activity of the Taal Volcano which effects the post deliveries.


There are major components that cause delays in the Canada Post service. Some can be easily solved such as customers following mailing requirements and postal guidelines. But some issues that cause delays are not easily resolved. such as labor costs, labor strikes, pension obligations, cuts in employee hours, labor layoffs, policy changes, and changes in postal services. Decisive changes that would resolve some of these issues lead to delays in post services and some such as accidents, weather, natural disasters, and other natural disasters can’t be predicted or eliminated.

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