Paycheques, medication affected by slow mail service

  • Oct. 1, 2008 5:00 p.m.

Queen Charlotte mayor Carol Kulesha says Canada Post just doesn’t understand the impact using only BC Ferries, which sails three times a week in winter, is having on islanders. Until last month, Canada Post used Air Canada to deliver mail but that contract has been terminated. Ms Kulesha told Canada Post officials about the effect on islanders during a conference call with managers in Vancouver and Ottawa on Sept. 30. Prior to the call she asked islanders what their concerns are and discovered the lack of airmail is slowing down everything from paycheques to machine parts to HIV medication. Queen Charlotte-based pharmacist Daryl Regier says all HIV medicine is sent by Priority Courier from St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. People who live with HIV need to take medication regularly.”If they miss a few days they can develop resistant strains,” he said.He ordered an emergency exposure kit used by hospital staff when they’ve been pricked by an infected needle on Sept. 17 and it didn’t arrive until 12 days later. “If it had been a patient the impact would have been devastating,” he said. He also has to confirm receipt of narcotics from his supplier within eight days and since airmail stopped this has been a problem. He’s received several menacing faxes from the distributor saying they will discontinue service if this doesn’t improve. In the past, he’s sent his confirmation through Canada Post, but he may now have to use a courier which would be a huge increase in cost. Ms Kulesha said she has also heard from sportfishing guides having trouble getting their invoices to clients and not receiving cheques back in the mail in a timely fashion. Delays of 10 to 12 days in the mail are causing problems for businesses, she said.”If you say it’s in the mail and it doesn’t get there for 10 days it doesn’t look like a proper business,” she said. The lack of airmail affects mortgage documents, loan papers, medical records and even voting materials. Doug Burles in Sandspit won’t be here on Oct. 14 for the federal election, but is worried whether his mail-in ballot will arrive in time for him to return it before Oct. 14. With no advance polls in Sandspit, he would have to spend four hours traveling and $30 on ferry fare to cast his ballot. He said he also received his voter registration card a week later than people in other communities in BC. “This closes us off from our already limited access to the outside world,” Ms Kulesha said. She said the Canada Post officials apologized to the community for not doing their work ahead of time to explain what they were doing and why, but she is also asking them to look further into the matter. She said it is still unclear why Air Canada has been ruled out as a carrier for the islands mail. “We need clarification on what happened,” she says. She is also asking if they’ve investigated all the options, such as using Pacific Coastal Airlines or floatplane service. The biggest problem, she said, is that somewhere along the line, the islands were classified as a remote community, meaning our service levels were set at five days for Priority Courier and eight days for regular mail. Haida Gwaii, unlike the other two BC communities that have no other airmail alternative – Fort St. John and Cranbrook – is much further away from a major centre. “They have a road and are within three to six hours from a major centre. It’s not the same,” she said. Canada Post has promised to get back to her by the end of the week.

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