It could be another black eye for the postal service in the Tri-Cities, as one Coquitlam neighbourhood went without mail for several days last week.
According the local union of postal workers, the carrier responsible for an area around the Westwood Plateau was sick for four days last week and was unable to deliver the mail.
Union representative Cindy McDonnell said Canada Post brought in supervisors for one day, but the mail failed to get out the rest of the week.
The days in question were Aug 30, Sept. 3, 4 and 6. By Monday, the carrier was back and the mail started to flow.
However, the local union is concerned the situation will not only reflect poorly on the service, but the carriers themselves.
"Their [mail carriers] concern is people are going to get frustrated and take it out on the carriers, because they're thinking 'where's my mail?" McDonnell told the Tri-Cities NOW.
She explained the urban carriers, who are under a different collective agreement than the suburban carriers in Coquitlam, offered to help take the shift in relief, but Canada Post refused.
McDonnell said the problem could be voided if Canada Post hired more casuals in the
region to take over when a regular carrier is sick. She also noted the carrier, who just returned from maternity leave, was expected to deliver five days of mail in one day.
"That's very unfair," McDonnell said, also adding she expects similar situations to happen in the future.
For its part, Canada Post acknowledged there were "unexpected absences" that "challenged" its resources.
"As a result, one route did receive delivery on alternate days," said Eugene Knapik, manager of media relations for Canada Post in an e-mail.
"We are committed to delivering mail within our service standards, and we typically process mail to have most of it delivered a day in advance. This allows us the flexibility to optimize our labour force when we experience such an unexpected period of high absenteeism and still generally deliver within our committed standard. The situation last week was an anomaly and I can confirm that we have returned to normal delivery this week."
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart has been an outspoken critic of Canada Post, and isn't pleased with the most recent incident.
"They're [Canada Post] struggling to be relevant... it's not going to help if you're outdated perhaps, but you're unreliable," he said.
Stewart said he's spoken with officials from the postal service in the past on the issue of community mailbox theft, and he intends to meet with them again regarding the most recent incident.
The mayor said he wants to know a similar situation won't happen again.
"Even one day without mail is unacceptable," he said.
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