Reporting to the Chair of the Board of Directors, the Office of the Ombudsman is independent of Canada Post staff and management. It gives Canadians another avenue if they feel Canada Post did not live up to its service commitments. It investigates customer complaints and recommends fair and equitable solutions. By identifying trends, focusing on prevention, and recommending changes as needed, it also offers Canada Post another perspective to improve service.
Since the pandemic began in early 2020, the number of appeals filed with our office has increased and remained well above the 2019 level. Canada Post made several changes to how it delivers mail during the pandemic and this drove up the number of appeals to the office.
In 2021, the total number of appeals filed with our office increased by 2 per cent compared to the previous year. We received 4,792 appeals compared to 4,700 in 2020. This also represents an increase of 39 per cent over 2019.
While the number of appeals decreased steadily between 2015 and 2019, going from 6,092 in 2015 down to 3,449 in 2019, the number of appeals has increased for various reasons:
- In 2020, Canada Post introduced some changes to how it delivered mail, which extended through most of 2021. These changes included new parcel safe-dropping procedures, modified delivery guarantees and a new signature collection process. This created some confusion with consumers who reported they were not aware of the changes at the time of mailing.
- Canada Post implemented in 2020 new safety protocols in its plants and depots that extended through all of 2021, which resulted in delivery delays that consumers complained about.
- Some consumers did not want to wear a mask when going to a post office, which violated Canada Post’s safety protocols. Customers objected to the practice, sometimes resulting in confrontations with staff.
- The floods in British Columbia washed away roads, bridges and railways, which impacted mail delivery. Customers complained about how long it took to deliver mail to or from the province.
We attribute most of the increase in appeals in 2020 and 2021 to postal issues related to the pandemic. We do not believe this increase is a sign of deeper, more systemic issues. For example, the return of delivery guarantees and the launch of verbal signatures in the fall of 2021 reduced the number of appeals.
The number of appeals related to the Canadian Postal Service Charter decreased by 335, or about 10 per cent, compared to the previous year. This decrease was due primarily to fewer reported issues for the reliability of mail delivery and fewer missing items.
Of the 2,125 cases for which we completed an in-depth investigation, 37 per cent resulted in corrective action. For the rest, our investigation supported Canada Post’s actions.
More than half the filings received did not result in an in-depth investigation because customers withdrew their submission before our investigation concluded, or did not provide the necessary documents, or reached out to us before Canada Post had the opportunity to fully address their issue.