Canada Post today warned the public about the potential for a work disruption even as labour negotiations with its workers continue. The possibility of mail carriers going on strike is a concern for many Canadian businesses and one industry that may be hard hit is the country’s medical marijuana sector.
Discussion between Canada Post management and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers regarding contract negotiations for some 50,000 employees have been going on since late 2015 and according to a Canada Post release the talks are now in their “final stretch” and no legal work, disruption can occur until July 2.
“While there is still time to reach new agreements, a legal work disruption could occur as early as July 2, 2016,” Canada Post said. “We understand the impact a work disruption would have on customers and are therefore doing everything possible to reach a negotiated settlement quickly. While a labour disruption remains a possibility, we are asking customers to take precautions.”
Wage parity between city and rural postal workers and the restoration of door-to-door mail delivery are among the key issues of the dispute, according to a CUPW spokesperson.
In the event of a labour disruption, Canada Post will not operate. Mail and parcels will not be delivered, and no new items will be accepted.
And that’s bad news for Canada’s medical marijuana industry which has grown to rely on Canada Post to deliver supplies to their customers.
“…it is kind of unfortunate and ridiculous that this (postal dispute) will have them (mail carriers) not be able to service a market that is actually growing,” said Bruce Linton, CEO and founder of Canopy Growth Corp. in an interview with the CBC. Canopy Growth operates The Tweed marijuana production facility Smith Falls, Ont.
Linton said that businesses in the medical marijuana trade send tens of thousands of packages via the Canada Post each month. He said growers and distributors prefer Canada Post because its carriers are able to reach even remote places.
If a strike does occur, Linton, said he will have orders delivered by a courier service.
The threat of a potential mail strike indicates that there are flaws in the delivery system favoured by the medical marijuana industry, according to Chuck Rifici, CEO of National Access Cannabis, which assists patients in gaining access to medical marijuana.
Rifici, who is also CEO of Nesta Holdings, a private equity firm that invests in the cannabis industry, told the CBC he doesn’t think it makes sense for the industry to use a mail order model.
He said National Access Cannabis wants the government instead to adopt a regulated storefront dispensary system to improve patients’ access to medical marijuana.