By Joel van der Veen
DAVIDSON — Canada Post is cracking down on rural postal employees sorting mail by hand.
The company says all mail received at rural post offices like Davidson must be sent to a regional centre — in this case, Regina — to be sorted automatically.
A Canada Post spokesperson said the corporation is simply enforcing an existing policy, and that there haven’t been any changes to the rules.
“To confirm, this is not a new process for Davidson or other rural post offices in your area,” Phil Legault said in an email to the Leader.
At a recent district meeting, rural employees were reminded of the policy, which is intended to standardize services for all customers.
The policy applies to all outgoing mail, whether it’s going to a post office box in Davidson or across the country.
“All mail, regardless of the address or destination, is to be handled and processed the same way to give all customers equal service and standards,” Legault said.
“We have high-speed sorting equipment that allows us to sort the mail faster than the manual sort that was being done locally.”
In practice, a letter mailed at the Davidson post office for delivery within Davidson would often be delivered the same day, as employees took the liberty of sorting those pieces of mail manually.
The added step of transporting the mail to Regina and back will delay the receipt of that mail by at least one or two days.
Canada Post’s website indicates the standard delivery time for local lettermail is two days.
Legault said Canada Post holds regular meetings with employees to review proper mail handling and processing procedures. The existing policy was “noted” at a recent meeting, he said.
Brenda McAuley, national president for the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, said the policy puts rural employees in an awkward position, as they try to provide the best customer service.
“They’re the front-line employees, they’re the ones who have to face the customers,” she told the Leader on Friday. “It’s a hard line.”
By telling their rural employees not to sort local mail, McAuley said Canada Post is effectively taking work away from them.
At the same time, McAuley said she understands the company’s position, as they seek to standardize service and also to ensure all mail is being properly counted and sequenced.
McAuley herself was formerly the postmaster in Capreol, Ont., a small town north of Sudbury, and had to follow a similar directive from Canada Post.
She said she was inclined to follow the rules, but at the same time, if someone came in to mail a birthday card to an address in Capreol, “that birthday card wasn’t going to Sudbury.”
“My position has to be, they have to listen to the corporation,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to see a member get in trouble because they’re sorting local mail.”