Rankin Inlet post office worker crying out for help

As package delivery slows to a snail’s pace in Rankin Inlet’s Canada Post office, customers’ ire grows.

“I feel like I have to say sorry, but it’s not my fault,” said one of the remaining staff at the post office, choosing to remain anonymous, though knowing full well their identity would likely be known by management.

The frequent post office closures and slow mail delivery have been social media fodder all year, but with the backlog growing ahead of Christmas and seemingly no support from upper management, staff are doing everything they can not to drown – in both incoming packages and community members’ frustrations levelled their way.

Only two staff have been working at the post office since resignations in October, and the backlog is so large now that the anonymous Canada Post employee believes many residents will not be getting their Christmas mail this year. The Canada Post backroom is already stuffed with mail, with even more waiting to be processed at the Calm Air cargo facility.

Workers get from 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. to card and process mail before opening to the public, at which point they can make little progress on the backlog, as they serve a steady stream of customers looking for their mail. They get another half hour at the end of the day to catch up on paperwork and carding, but any further progress has to be made in evening and weekend overtime.

“I’ve been working every weekend since the middle of October, because we’re so short-staffed,” said the anonymous worker, who has been with the post office for about one year.

Verbal abuse has become common, and some customers have even taken the step of calling the police and accusing the staff of stealing their packages.

The RCMP, instead, have been assisting the Canada Post workers from time to time by sorting letter mail in the backroom, said the worker. They said many people volunteer to help sort mail, but only police or bylaw are authorized to do so.

“All week last week there were customers even trying to come back in here and look for their parcels, but we kept having to tell them you have to just wait for the parcel card,” said the worker. “I know it’s a long wait, but we can only do so much.”

The worker has been crying out for help from management but says they have received zero support.

“It would feel good to be heard,” the individual said about the step of speaking to the media, knowing the consequences that could come. “I feel like I don’t have anyone because my boss never listens to me.”

In fact, the worker had already tendered their resignation in the last few weeks, but retracted it to help get Christmas gifts out the door.

“That’s what I’m mostly worried about — that’s why I’ve been working so much overtime, because I want people to get their gifts,” they said.

‘For the kids’

The worker opened a box of Santa’s mail for school children, saying it was their responsibility to write notes on every letter.

“At this point, I’m only doing my job for the kids,” they said.

The employee said their family has noticed how stressed and closed-off the worker has become. The individual now even avoids going out in public outside of work hours because they don’t want to be accused of being bad at their job or not spending their free time sorting mail.

“From last year, I could say that I changed so much, because I used to always go out and hang out with friends or be with my family, but now I don’t even want to get out of home because of the way that people look at me for their stuff,” they said.

Still, they try to accommodate urgent requests as best as possible, such as setting aside passport mail or important documents to make sure those items get in people’s hands.

The Rankin Inlet outlet also services other communities in the Kivalliq, plus Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Winnipeg, adding to the tasks.

“We can’t do this, just the two of us,” said the worker. “I would just like customers to keep bugging Canada Post about how much we need help, because that’s all I’ve been asking for, is just help.”

Valérie Chartrand, media relations with Canada Post, said the organization is aware of the postal service issues in Rankin Inlet.

“We are working to bring consistency in service to the region and we remain in regular communication with community leaders,” she told Kivalliq News in an email. “While our local operations team works hard to provide continuous postal service, they are facing staffing challenges and the post office is currently operating with limited staff. As a result, the post office had to reduce its hours on several days over the last weeks. While we are still actively recruiting to fulfill a part-time position, we have been successful in hiring two full-time employees, who should start in their positions in the coming weeks. A part-time employee also accepted to move to a full-time schedule.”

Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kivalliq News