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Post office restores normal delivery times as mediated talks fail

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Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, December 18, 2018 11:33AM EST


Last Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2018 4:23PM EST

OTTAWA — The restoration of delivery service guarantees by Canada Post — three weeks after striking postal workers were forced back to work — proves the shipment backlogs Ottawa used to justify legislating an end to rotating walkouts were “fiction,” says the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

The Crown agency announced Tuesday it had caught up on most parcel delivery backlogs that had been created by the sporadic labour disruptions that began Oct. 22.

As a result, the corporation said its normal holiday service commitments were being restored across most of Canada, except the West Coast.

“With continued progress, we are now in a position to restore our normal holiday delivery service guarantees for much of the country,” Canada Post said in a statement.

“This means Canadians can expect normal holiday delivery timelines for parcels. The exception remains items headed to or departing Vancouver as backlogs there continue to cause additional delays.”

The announcement came as the mediation process aimed at bridging the impasse between the post office and its unionized employees came to an abrupt end.

The federal government legislated an end to job action by postal workers on Nov. 27 after Canada Post complained that a backlog of parcels had reached historic levels ahead of the crucial holiday shopping period.

At the time, Canada Post warned the backlog could take until the end of January to clear up.

The fact that service delivery guarantees are being restored just three weeks after back-to-work legislation was passed proves the parcel backlogs being claimed by Canada Post were an illusion, said CUPW national president Mike Palecek.

“The reports that we’ve been getting, and are still getting, is that our plants are not even operating at capacity,” Palecek said in an interview.

“We have places where (Canada Post) is offering members leave without pay to go home because they don’t have work. So I wouldn’t just question the backlog, I would say it was total fiction.”

Canada Post said it delivered about four million packages between last Friday and Monday of this week, and will likely be able to deliver items ordered online in time for Christmas.

It credited a lack of incoming packages — rather than a non-existent backlog — for the faster-than-expected pace of deliveries.

“Incoming holiday parcel volumes continue to be down over 2017, and significantly below projections for this year,” the agency said.

“As a result, our fully-enacted holiday delivery plans, which were built to deliver the projected double-digit parcel growth from online shopping this holiday season, continue to help our operations catch up.”

Still, the corporation warned, whether packages arrive before Christmas will also depend on where the parcels are coming from. Some shipments from outside Canada might only be delivered in early January.

During the walkouts, Canada Post requested that its foreign partners halt deliveries to Canada while job action was underway. That request was lifted after postal workers were legislated back to their jobs.

Under the back-to-work bill, a mediator-arbitrator was appointed to attempt reaching new collective agreements at Canada Post.

But a week of talks aided by former Canada Industrial Relations Board chair Elizabeth MacPherson were halted Tuesday with both sides too far apart to extend the negotiations for another seven days, as was an option under the legislation.

Palecek said there was no movement on the union’s key demands, which include health and safety concerns and calls for equality measures, during the talks.

A spokeswoman for Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said the government was “disappointed” the two sides were unable to reach negotiated agreements, but noted the bill sets out a path to bring the dispute to an end.

“The legislation outlines guiding principles for a new collective agreement, which will ensure that a fair and balanced deal is arbitrated for the parties,” Veronique Simard said in a statement.

MacPherson is now expected to begin a process in January that will result in arbitrated settlements being imposed on Canada Post and its 42,000 urban carriers and 8,000 rural and suburban employees.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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