Lack of staff at Cambridge Bay post office once again brings service to a standstill

Canada Post says it’s working to stop increased violence towards workers

Cambridge Bay’s post office continues to see periodic closures due to understaffing. (File photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

The post office in Cambridge Bay saw unexpected closures this week as it continues to struggle with understaffing and angry outbursts from customers.

After closing early this week, and then re-opening briefly on Wednesday, Canada Post said Thursday that its branch at 4 Kamotik Rd. would be open from Monday to Friday, from 4:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.

The post office first shut its doors abruptly in December when its two employees walked off the job. They cited verbal abuse from clients.

In January, yet another employee left for similar reasons.

The main hurdle to opening the Cambridge Bay post office now is staffing, said Dale LeClair, Canada Post’s director of Indigenous and northern affairs.

“The Cambridge Bay post office has been experiencing staffing issues, which has unfortunately resulted in disrupted service and temporary closures over the past month,” LeClair said in an email Wednesday.

LeClair said a new postmaster will be in place in Cambridge Bay later this month and that efforts will continue to hire staff.

Canada Post is still looking for two post office assistants to work in Cambridge Bay.

Xan Moffatt-Toews, the president of the Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Branch of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, told Nunatsiaq News that the post office couldn’t open unless there are two employees working at the same time.

“The violence from the customers has been getting much worse,” she said in an email, but would not elaborate.

LeClair acknowledged this, saying customers who become aggressive are not always the same, but they have made “very significant threats and we have called the RCMP.”

He asked customers for patience.

“When we reopen, we ask customers to keep the post office friendly and stay patient, follow our mandatory face covering requirements in the post office and practise physical distancing,” he said.

Meanwhile, some in this community of about 1,800 say they are fed up with erratic service at the post office.

“Elders are waiting for tax papers so I can do their taxes,” said Vicki Aitaok, who volunteers to help elders prepare their returns. “It’s unreal.”

Some businesses also are unable to send out their T-4 forms to workers.

Peter Laube of Kalvik Enterprises Inc., said he uses Canadian North’s First Pac service to send out documents and does most of his business online.

Laube said he understands why some post office customers get frustrated. Tracking may show their package is in Cambridge Bay, but they can’t get it due to the backlog in processing all mail. Then they get angry with the staff, he said.

“They don’t stop to think. People don’t have a big tolerance for getting yelled at and sworn out. There is no reason for that kind of behaviour,” Laube said.

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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Cambridge bay resident on

    Thank you post masters for the hard work you guys are doing. I know it’s crazy and I’m sorry you’re going through this. There is only a couple of those “bad” people & not all of Cambridge bay are “bad” people. Hopefully they will hire someone full time soon. Stay safe

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  2. Posted by Info on

    Postal Services, pls check for the “mandatory face coverings” where some elders are unable to wear a mask. GN allows for exemptions for instances such as this. Hope CB postal services resume soon.

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    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      BUT any business can say masks only or decline service.

  3. Posted by Just a Suggestion on

    Maybe Canada Post, who states they have 0 tolerance should now either publish the names of those persons making threats or problems in the post office or if that is not possible, close their post office box and deny them service for six months.

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    • Posted by Oscare on

      Start doing public shaming, this will cut down the dumba** abuse. Some people are so stupid. Don’t blame the Postal workers for delayed shipments. They only receive and sort the mail. They don’t control the delivery into the community.

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      • Posted by anonymous on

        It would be great if the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay did a public meeting regarding the issues at the Post Office. Invite the elders especially, as they are not on social media to know what is happening at the Post Office. Just a thought.

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  4. Posted by West Kitikmeot post office blues on

    Jane, thanks for the reporting. If you can, please call Canada Post’s director of Indigenous and northern affairs and ask why it has been 4 weeks (so far, and counting) in Kugluktuk without a functioning computer at the Canada Post outlet. The post office staff are great in Kugluktuk, but someone in the Canada Post Corporate office needs to be informed through the press to take it seriously. Latest story is it will take another 2-4 weeks to replace the desktop computer!! Everything requires a computer these days. You can’t ship anything that has a tracking number, or ship an international parcel that requires customs.

    We feel for all those in Cam Bay affected by a minority of abusive post office clients. Bo worked in Kugluktuk for a bit training new post office staff and was very knowledgeable and helpful.

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  5. Posted by Kugluktuk resident on

    I’ve also seeing a lot abuse against postal worker here in Kugluktuk. The poor lady that works there is frequently accused of stealing and holding people’s mail. I saw her in tears few days ago. What’s preventing Canada Post to acknowledge and deal with this situation across Nunavut?

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    • Posted by Copperminer on

      Coppermine has an awesome postmistress who goes out of her way to insure the general postal recipients get their mail , common courtesy of the general public is essential and helpful for there is a lack of dedicated service when it comes to Civic duty, this kind of “essential service “ Is needed without the public showing themselves to be shameful. Shame on the shameless people who have been mindless to give negative attitude to a person doing a great job .

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    • Posted by anonymous on

      I am wondering why I had a Christmas card with the appropriate Box # etc. sent beginning of December only to have it returned back to me early Feb -something is not right. There needs to be a security camera in place when and/if a Postal worker is being harassed by a customer(s), just saying.

      • Posted by Maybe.. on

        Could it be: due to Pandemic since day one that caused your delayed package?

        • Posted by anonymous on

          Did I mention package? Read carefully before you respond, a Christmas card sent to a family with appropriate Box # which was returned.

  6. Posted by Why does CP only hire two people for 1,800 people’s mail? on

    Hmmm.. something ain’t right.

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  7. Posted by John K on

    The list of things I’ll do for $18 an hour is pretty short and being abused isn’t on it.

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  8. Posted by Postmaster on

    Get a security camera behind staff to see what they go through and give to RCMP also hire a big security guard! People are getting away with being bullies..

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  9. Posted by Fed up on

    If we had politicians that had half a brain and had people best interest in mind, they would force Canada post to get security cameras or guards. This is just a plain act of disregard and refusing to spent the money needed for the health and safety of their employees.

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    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      Now that is a federal issue. Perhaps your elected MP can deal with that and bring it to the proper Minister responsible for the Post Office.

      • Posted by Bemused on

        But that wold mean she’d have to do something aside from tweeting and Facebook posting complaining that everyone else isn’t doing their jobs.

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    • Posted by Territorial MPs Are Out on

      Nunavut politicians have no voice in this matter. Only one who could raise the issue is our MP.

  10. Posted by Forever Amazed on

    What is happening in Nunavut? It was not that long ago that the Legislature was discussing having security guards in health centres in the territory. Not sure what the conclusion was, however, just to have this discussion leads one to believe it is a serious issue.

  11. Posted by trapper on

    This Cambridge Bay post office is believed to be contracted out to a company from Canada Post. No wonder nobody wants to work here. Put up with immature unemployed residents and get cheap pay of 17 or 18 bucks hr.

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    • Posted by Not contracted on

      While most outlets are contracted out to Co-op, Northern or Hamlet, the one in Cambridge is a standalone Canada Post outlet.

  12. Posted by Nancy on

    Would you hire a retired postmaster Do you you have to fly into this town?

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