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Cuts to Canada Post hit rural areas in the Peace Region hard

In Tomslake, there isn't much besides the post office. "That's basically the main service now. We don't have a cafe or anything," said Linda Fister, a resident of the rural 350-strong hamlet southeast of Dawson Creek.
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The post office in Tomslake B.C. is one of the last services in the town of 350.

In Tomslake, there isn't much besides the post office. "That's basically the main service now. We don't have a cafe or anything," said Linda Fister, a resident of the rural 350-strong hamlet southeast of Dawson Creek.

And like many rural communities across Canada, Tomslake is beginning to feel the impacts of the federal government's cuts to Canada Post services.

Elsewhere in the Peace Region, hours are slated to be cut at rural post offices in Clayhurst, Buick, Wonowon, Prophet River, Rose Prairie and Sunset Prairie.

The Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, the union that represents Canada Post workers, recently informed Tomslake residents of the extent of the cuts in a letter.

According to the union, Canada Post is proposing to cut hours at the Tomslake post office. The office, which is staffed by a single employee, will soon only operate for five hours a day Monday to Friday – from 10 a.m. to noon, and between 1 and 3 p.m. 

"This equates to more than 33 per cent reduction in your postal service," the letter states. "This service reduction will decrease your access to pick up or mail parcels, buy or cash money orders and pick up call for items, such as registered letters."

"It's ridiculous. It's inaccessible, basically. People who are working, when are they going to pick up the mail?" asked Fister.

Edith Andersch, another resident, said she was still figuring out how the cuts will impact her.

"I haven't deciphered it yet. All I know is, it's bad,” she said.

Earlier this year, Canada Post projected it would lose around $274 million before tax in 2014. The Conservative government instructed the Crown corporation to make drastic cuts to get back in the black.

Canada Post has since announced it would end home delivery for several million Canadians by centralizing delivery to neighbourhood mailboxes. It has also cut 8,000 jobs and raised the price of stamps 35 per cent.

Even city offices are facing serious cuts. In 2013, as previously reported in the Alaska Highway News, Canada Post introduced a plan to reduce the number of full-time employees at its Dawson Creek branch from three to one.

Leslie Ainslie, a director of the CPAA's B.C. branch, said she believes Canada Post wants to save money by driving rural postmasters out of business.

"Eventually, Canada Post squeezes enough that people say, ‘I can't keep doing this job,’" she said.

She added that when people are forced to use a post office outside of town, they tend to make other purchases outside their community, which hurts local businesses.

"Little by little, the whole town just suffers," she said. "For a corporation that has a mandate to provide universal postal service, they're really cherry picking."

Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer, the region’s representative in Ottawa, declined to comment when contacted for this article. Canada Post did not return calls seeking comment.

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