Canada Post paid $21 million in legal fees to fight union
Six years after an initial access to information request, the Toronto Star has revealed Canada Post spent an exorbitant sum of $21 million in legal fees to fight a pay equity case that stretched over decades.
A human rights complaint was first issued in 1983 by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Canada’s largest public sector union was tasked with representing 2,300 clerical workers implicated at the cases beginning.
The complaint cited significant disparities between the payment of largely male mail-sorters and letter-carriers, and mainly female clerical workers working for Canada Post. It would eventually get the backing of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which found Canada Post owed its workers $150 million in damages.
Canada Post was willing to fight the union in a forty year legal dispute that culminated in a unanimous 2011 Supreme Court decision that favoured the case brought forward by the workers.
Canada Post “fought every step of the way,” Helen Barry, a legal officer with PSAC, told the Star.
Indeed, when 2011 rolled around, many of the workers involved at the cases onset had died. Nonetheless, many current employees and 12,500 former employees have been compensated to the tune of 50 percent of what they had loss due to pay inequity.
Canada Post’s spending on legal fees has only been divulged after an access to information request dating back to 2013. At first, Canada Post did not release the desired information, claiming it fell under solicitor-client privilege while the crown corporation continued to settle its financial affairs with PSAC.
Eventually, the Star got the figures they were looking for this past June. It appears, between 2000 and 2013, Canada Post spent just over $11.5 million in the late stages of the legal dispute. From 1989 to 2000, the company invested nearly $9.5 million.
The figure of $21 million for legal fees would likely be higher, however, Canada Post lacks relevant records on legal spending prior to 1989.
This is not the first time Canada Post has been taken to task for pay inequities. In 2016, the crown corporation was forced to raise wages by %25 for a majority female rural and suburban mail carriers, who were receiving less than a largely male group that worked in urban areas.
Christmas is quickly approaching and many people are using delivery services to receive their packages, but there appears to have been an increase in package thieves or “porch pirates” across Canada.
Porch pirates are thieves who keep an eye out for deliveries and attempt to grab whatever is dropped off at a given house. Some houses are equipped with security systems allowing homeowners to capture the thieves on video, but this method is not always successful in identifying suspects who quickly run off with others’ loot.
One man was caught by someone in the neighbourhood loading his SUV with Amazon boxes in an Oshawa neighbourhood on December 12.
Another thief can be seen on camera stealing a package straight off of a porch of a house in Ingersoll, Ontario.
Some people have taken it upon themselves to get back at the thieves. A Colorado woman, Christine Hyatt, filled her old amazon boxes with garbage and duped thieves into taking it off of her hands.
The Post Millennial reached out to several police departments in major cities across Canada. Some of them provided advice for homeowners to help prevent this sort of thing from happening.
David Hopkinson, the Media Relations Officer for Toronto Police Service, told The Post Millennial, “During the holiday season there is an increase in thefts.”
“As thieves become more aware of this opportunity and our society becomes more reliant on online purchases, there may be an increase in these types of thefts,” said Hopkinson.
“In some instances where homeowners, their neighbors, or citizens in the area have dash-cam or video surveillance, we have been able to gather pictures and video.”
In a study conducted by Ring, a home security company, they found that close to 1 in 5 homeowners have had packages stolen. The study showed a spike in thefts around Christmas.
The Edmonton Police Service told The Post Millennial, “Homeowners can also have packages shipped directly to Canada Post outlets if the retailer is able to ship to PO boxes. This is a free service that may be helpful for those who are unable to receive their packages.”
The Montreal Police Service referred us to the Office de la protection du consommateur who told us, “…consumers might not be aware of their rights. For example, when a consumer receives a photo of the package at his door from the carrier, he might think tough luck when he comes back home and the package is gone. That’s why we issued a release to say it’s the merchant’s responsibility to make sure the package is received, and if not, the consumer can cancel the order and be reimbursed.”
The Post Millennial asked a Canada Post representative if their a lot of Grinch-like porch pirates around the holiday season stealing Christmas packages.
“Absolutely yes, we do receive a lot of calls around the holidays of course. Even for packages it is pretty hectic. It is the peak season but for calls as well we are getting swarmed,” said the Canada Post rep.
We encourage readers to share any experiences of package theft with us here at The Post Millennial.
Had a Christmas package stolen from outside your home? Send your story to The Post Millennial reporter Sam McGriskin at [email protected]
Commissioner of Official Languages ruled in a report that Canada Post is not respecting rights of Francophones by having only an English URL for its website.
Complainant Chantal Carey of New Brunswick was given a report from the commissioner that found her language rights were violated by Canada Post.
The problem worth filing a complaint?
The Canada Post Corporation’s French version of the website has an English URL–www.canadapost.ca–because Canada Post didn’t build a separate French domain name for its French version.
“It’s a principle of equality,” Carey said to the Canadian Press. “Often, people give up by saying ‘We’ll make a complaint and get a response in two years, what’s the point?’ But we must, we must! And often, it’s by making this information public that things change. When reports aren’t made public, the institution says ‘there aren’t too many consequences, so we won’t do anything.’”
Carey filed her complaint last December.
The language commissioner found that Canada Post must have its domain name and URL for every web page in both official languages or at least have the URL in the same language as the the web page’s content.
Why did Canada Post go on strike?
On October 22nd Canada post began a series of “rotating” strikes after year-long negotiations failed between the crown corporation and the Canadian Union of postal workers (CUPW).
The two parties were unable to reach an agreement regarding new contract demands which resulted in union workers deciding to take matters into their own hands. As a means to lower the effects to consumers, each strike was meant to last 24 hours per city, placing the various strike locations on rotation.
Although the CUPW specifies a lengthy list of grievances, their top button issue concerns the discrepancy in pay between urban and rural postal workers. For rural carriers it’s the size of their route that determines their pay whereas urban carriers are paid by the hour, resulting in a higher payday for those working in the city centers.
The CUPW also points out that not only is this unjust regarding pay equity between workers but that this raises issues over the wage gap between men and women; as urban carriers are predominantly male and most rural carriers are female.
The postal service being the essential service that it is meant that the government was able to pass legislation forcing carriers back to work and after a month of rotating strikes across the country the Trudeau government did just that.
On November 22nd the government introduced legislation forcing Canada Post employees to get back to work which was passed six days later in the Senate and was quickly given royal assent. Canada Post workers returned to work the following day; however, the effects of the month-long rotating strikes are likely to be felt long after.
What’s the status on deliveries that were delayed because of the strikes?
It’s been two weeks since mail carriers began to return to their routes, however as the holiday season hastily approaches, Canada Post is still warning that packages may not make it on time.
As the effects of the rotating strikes linger on so too does their ability to slow down the system. Many parcels are still waiting to be delivered and on Friday afternoon service’s spokesperson, Jon Hamilton, said: “We are facing a backlog of about six million parcels as of today.”
Hamilton goes on to explain that the combination of the strikes mixed with the demand of the holiday season means that Canada Post will not be able to guarantee their normal delivery times.
However, there is some hope in sight as Hamilton explained that in order to get as many items through the system as possible Canada Post have brought on “about 4,000 extra staff across the country and about 2,000 extra vehicles.”
In terms of foreign deliveries, the situation is far bleaker. After briefly halting all incoming deliveries from foreign postal services, Canada Post is experiencing a large backlog of packages. Although the embargo has been lifted, Hamilton still cautions that overseas packages will most likely take longer than usual to arrive, as the rotating strikes have made the system far more unpredictable.
What can Canada Post customers expect?
For the average consumer one can expect many delays, frustration and certainly no guarantees from Canada Post this holiday season, luckily, however, there are alternatives to ensure that there will be presents under the tree come Christmas morn.
As the only thing one can truly expect from Canada Post for the foreseeable future is lengthy waits, many shipping services have now stepped forward to combat the issue.
eShipper, based in Toronto, uses a range of available carries including Purolator, DHL and UPS to search rates and find customers the best deal available when it comes to delivering their packages across the globe. As providing customers with a competitive alternative to Canada Post is part of the companies’ business model it is an excellent option for those who wish to ensure their holiday gifts get delivered on time.
A similar alternative that not only serves consumers but small business owners as well is ShipTime, Inc. The company aims to allow small business owners with limited volume to “tap into our collective buying power to get cost-effective rates for all kinds of shipping” says Allan Pratt, president and CEO of the Oakville-based company.
For entrepreneurs looking to save some money, Chit Chats offers another solution by driving your deliveries across the border and placing them in the USPS mail stream. However, in order to comply with border regulations, your small business must be valued at under 800$ USD in order to ship duty-free.
As the rotating regional strikes have managed to seriously slow down the flow of package deliveries across Canada, many have been left frustrated and anxious about whether or not their holiday gifts will come in time for Christmas.
Whereas before customers dreams were filled with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads they are now lying awake wondering whether or not all they’ll have to put under the tree this year will be lumps of coal.
Although Canada Post is dealing with the backlog of packages as best they can and alternative options to shipping do exist, with Christmas day fast approaching the usual reading of A Visit from St. Nicholas might soon be replaced by a viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas.