Canada Post gets grinchy on letters to Santa, charges child for postage

(Screengrab from Post seems to be losing its fight to stay relevant in a world abandoning snail mail for the electronic kind, but that's no excuse to get all Grinchy around Christmas-time.

The Toronto Sun reports the Crown corporation and some of its staff have told kids to put stamps on their letters to Santa Claus, letters that for the last 30 years were accepted postage-free.

It's happened a couple of times in Ontario, the Sun says, despite Canada Post managers' insistence that no stamps are needed to reach Santa at the North Pole.

A mother in Whitby, Ont., last week said she was told Santa letters needed a stamp and a suburban Toronto dad told the Sun he got the same advice from a post office employee last weekend.

"My seven-year-old daughter was charged [61 cents] for mailing a letter to Santa at the Brooklin post office," Tyger Das told the Sun.

"I did state to the postal worker we didn't pay last year, [but] the postal worker told me it was a Canada Post policy change."

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The Sun said Canada Post's website at one point stated "be sure to affix sufficient postage" when sending Santa letters. But by Monday the reference was removed.

Communications director Anick Losier said she would check into the latest incident.

"We're sending reminders to everyone that there were no policy changes and that Santa's post office accepts all letters," she told the Sun.

This is the 31st year Canada Post and thousands of volunteer postal employees and retirees have run their Santa-letter campaign. Children are invited to write Santa at his North Pole home — postal code H0H 0H0 — by Dec. 17. Volunteers answer the letters, which come from around the world in dozens of languages.

Canada Post's news release on the program says it aims to encourage kids to pick up the letter-writing habit and promote correct addressing, among other things.

It makes no mention of needing postage. But its Santa's Corner web site shows a sample Santa letter with a Christmas-themed stamp. The program this year also allows kids to email Santa via the web site. blogger Marc Weisblott said the policy appears to be that proper postage is recommended but not required. He pointed to a Dec. 3 tweet by Losier: "Letters to Santa will not be returned if no stamps. Santa's post office and #CanadaPost encourages postage, but mostly, a return address."

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"With over a million letters written to the North Pole in Canada every year, the 61 cents in postage accompanying each of them would generate much-needed income for the national service, which is actively pursuing new revenue streams," Weisblott writes.

Last month, Canada Post reported its sixth consecutive quarter of financial losses and warned mail volumes are "likely to decline further and rapidly."