Alta. post office struggling to stay open following Canada Post vaccine mandate: mayor

The mayor of a town northeast of Edmonton says its Canada Post is barely able to stay open after the Crown corporation mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.

Lamont's post office was closed Monday without advance warning because of staffing issues.

The location has roughly 1,500 boxes, and serves a number of rural county residents.

Mayor Kirk Perrin told CTV News Edmonton it was able to open for the rest of the week, thanks to workers from other locations.

"It's been new staff every single day and it's just kind of chaos there, but it is opening and they're doing the best they can," Perrin said.

The mayor acknowledged he has "no idea what's happening with the regular staff," but he's heard the staff shortages are related to Canada Post's vaccine mandate. He also believes other communities are facing the same issue.

It's the first kind of service disruption Perrin has experienced during his eight years in Lamont, a town of about 2,000 people 60 kilometres outside Edmonton.

Canada Post and other federally regulated agencies followed the federal government's suit in the late summer in making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory across the federal public service.

Canada Post's policy came into effect on Nov. 27, just two days before Lamont's post office's Monday closure.

According to Alberta Health, 69 per cent of all people in Lamont County have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Just under 65 per cent are fully vaccinated. The rates are about level with those seen in most of its neighbouring counties.

In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, Canada Post acknowledged "there may be a few isolated cases where a post office may see reduced hours or temporarily close due to staffing issues," but said it wasn't otherwise anticipating any major service disruptions.

Yet the impact felt by Lamont residents and businesses hasn't been small.

"It's huge, especially the time of year," Perrin told CTV News Edmonton.

The community has a larger elderly population. Some residents aren't able to drive the hour to Edmonton for services.

"For those people who either rely on medication or regular shipments, via parcels and Canada Post, for medication or supplies or whatever, it's really acute… Not only that, but it's the time of year where they're looking to connect with friends and family from abroad," the mayor said.

"The emotions range definitely from concern, frustration, anger, a lot of confusion. You know, there are no answers. No one has any answers here."

Canada Post is not revealing how many of its employees are complying with its vaccine mandate, except that it is "the vast majority."

"[It] applies to all employees – those working in a Canada Post facility and those working remotely. Any employee who is not currently in compliance with the policy has been placed on leave without pay. Our Mandatory Vaccination Practice is the latest step in our ongoing commitment to keep our people, and the communities we serve, safe," a statement from the Crown corporation read.

There are more than 6,000 Canada Posts across the country.