New Iqaluit post office growing pains continue into holiday mail rush

Canada Post opened a new Iqaluit location at Astro Hill in October 2023. Several Iqalummiut have complained in the month since it opened about packages missing, long lines, and troubles changing their mailing addresses to align with the new system. (Nick Murray/CBC News)

People in Iqaluit say the post office is still suffering some growing pains following an overhaul of the city’s mailing system a little more than a month ago — though many are praising the efforts of the staff to get things on track.

At the end of October, Canada Post revamped Iqaluit’s mailing system to use civic addresses rather than having mail addressed to postal boxes.

But in the infancy of the transition, the move has culminated in delivery delays, long lines and a “decline in quality of postal services,” according to Iqaluit resident Alex McConnachie who put those frustrations in a letter last month to Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal minister responsible for Canada Post.

“Many individuals are experiencing difficulties in updating their addresses, leading to disruptions in mail delivery and an overall lack of clarity in the new system,” McConnachie wrote, adding the issue was being exacerbated by “inadequacy of staffing.”

Iqaluit resident Alex McConnachie wrote to the federal minister responsible for Canada Post urging Jean-Yves Duclos to intervene. (David Gunn/CBC News)

Speaking to CBC News outside the new post office location at Astro Hill, McConnachie said parcel delivery has been the hardest part of the transition, particularly when he had packages go missing.

“They did finally find them, but it was after a time that I showed up and I refused to leave,” he said.

Other customers have reported not being able to receive their packages without the delivery slip, despite having the tracking number, because the new sorting system has staff hand-writing a parcel’s location in the warehouse on the delivery slip, but the location isn’t logged in the computer system as was previously done.

McConnachie didn’t receive a response to his letter to Duclos and followed up again on Tuesday, urging the minister to intervene.

In a statement to CBC News on Wednesday, Duclos’s office said they’re aware of the concerns being raised by community members, and “are working closely with Canada Post to resolve the issue.”

Canada Post did not respond to CBC’s request for information on the number of complaints it has received since the changes were made. But on Wednesday, McConnachie did receive a reply to his letter to Duclos from Rod Hart, Canada Post’s chief customer service and marketing officer.

“As for your concerns regarding the staffing of our new post office, we had a very successful hiring campaign prior to opening and, while we currently have appropriate staffing, we will continue to assess our needs,” Hart wrote.

“While we acknowledge this has been a period of adjustment for many, we are confident it is leading to more efficient and reliable postal service in the long term.”

Charging more for the same destination

In addition to overhauling the addressing system, Canada Post also instituted two new postal codes for the new post office location at Astro Hill, ending in “2H0” and “3H0.”

But in the first month of the new service, Canada Post was charging higher parcel rates to the new postal codes than the old ones, despite their being in the same city.

CBC News tested the “find a rate” function on Canada Post’s website, and found Canada Post was charging $21.60 more for a one-kilogram package to go via Xpresspost to the 2H0 postal code, than the existing 1H0 postal code.

A screenshot taken on Nov. 30 comparing the price difference Canada Post was quoting to deliver the same size package to 2 different postal codes in Iqaluit. The cost for Xpresspost, top centre and bottom right, differs by $21.60 between the 2 postal codes. Canada Post says it has since fixed the error and apologized for the mistake. (Nick Murray/CBC News)

While Canada Post refused to address questions relating to service issues, spokesperson Phil Rogers did elaborate on the discrepancies, saying it was an error.

“Unfortunately, it was determined that our reduced rates for Northern communities were not automatically applied to these new postal codes,” Rogers said.

“We apologize to our customers for this issue and thank you for bringing it to our attention. We’re urgently working on resolving it as quickly as possible and trying to determine how many customers may have been impacted so that we can take the appropriate measures.”

Related stories from around the North: 

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Russia: German project to house everything published in Siberian and Arctic languages to seek new funding, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: 2022 Gollegiella Nordic Sami language prize awarded in Stockholm, Eye on the Arctic

United States: How Inuit culture helped unlock power of classical score for Inupiaq violinist, Eye on the

Nick Murray, CBC News

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