In the name of safety, postal workers have refused to deliver the mail for some dubious reasons over the years—a growling cat in Winnipeg, a house in Montreal that didn’t have a railing for three porch steps. But in the constant bickering that goes on between the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Canada Post, it isn’t only the posties who seem to be using the issue of worker safety to their advantage. As usual, though, it’s the customer who suffers.
In the latest spat, Old Man Winter is being blamed for the possible suspension of delivery to parts of St. John’s, Nfld. Over the past few weeks, Canada Post has sent out notices to 400 residents in the Newfoundland and Labrador capital informing them that door-to-door delivery could be replaced by temporary community mailboxes during the winter months. That’s because the city’s snowy sidewalks force mail carriers onto roadways, subjecting them to dangerous slips and falls. The postal workers’ union, however, says that’s not the case; CUPW worries that, once installed, the community mailboxes are likely to become permanent, reducing work for its members.
St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe agrees, calling the move ridiculous and unnecessary. The problem has nothing to do with snow removal, he says, noting recent city spending on snowplows, staff and supplies for clearing snowy sidewalks. Instead, he says the threat to halt service is about the Crown corporation trying to eliminate door-to-door delivery. St. John’s residents, meanwhile, are left to wonder whether Newfoundland winters, global warming notwithstanding, have become harder, or if those who deliver newspapers and pizza—no matter what the weather—have suddenly grown hardier.