Some northern Manitobans waiting weeks for mail, prescription drugs

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OTTAWA — A remote stretch of northern Manitoba has gone three weeks without mail delivery, leading to locals waiting on prescription drugs.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/01/2022 (212 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — A remote stretch of northern Manitoba has gone three weeks without mail delivery, leading to locals waiting on prescription drugs.

“It’s just the attitude at Canada Post, like they just don’t care,” said Cecil Thorne, a resident of Pikwitonei, 630 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

The town of roughly 80 sits along a stretch accessed by snow roads, or through the Hudson Bay Railway, where mail was last delivered on Dec. 22.

A Canada Post spokesman said staff are trying to resume mail service for the residents of Pikwitonei as soon as it's safely possible. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files)

Normally, the mail comes on the thrice-weekly Via Rail train, though two recent journeys were cancelled.

The local postmaster told Thorne he couldn’t get authorization from Canada Post to come to Thompson and pick up the mail from the post office.

The Crown corporation said that’s because the winter road has been closed, which remained the case Friday evening according to the Manitoba 511 website.

However, Thorne said the postmaster in nearby Thicket Portage made the trip along that stretch anyway.

“It seems our mail has been held as hostage in Thompson,” said Thorne, who himself went to Thompson along the winter road and says post-office staff couldn’t authorize him to pick up his own mail.

“It’s two Crown corporations: Via Rail and Canada Post, and between the two of them you’d think they could figure out a way to deliver the mail.”

A Canada Post spokesman said staff are trying to resume mail service as soon as safely possible.

“We recognize the difficulties and frustration facing the residents of Pikwitonei and surrounding communities who have had mail delivery interrupted,” wrote Phil Legault.

He said staff tried to find an alternate arrangement as soon as Via Rail cancelled its Jan. 10 route, but wasn’t able to arrange a delivery.

“When notified of railway service interruptions, Canada Post has a process with contingencies that allows us to deliver the mail while maintaining its integrity and safety,” Legault wrote.

“We appreciate that customers depend on us and we take that commitment very seriously.”

Thorne said his part of the province depends on mail because they only have access to internet through a shoddy, satellite system, and most people get their medicines delivered through the postal system.

In March 2021, the Free Press reported on residents of The Pas waiting for Christmas parcels 10 weeks after the 2020 holiday.

The Crown corporation said at the time it was overloaded by a boom in online shipping starting in November 2020, when the province implemented COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting stores from selling virtually all non-essential items.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

Dylan Robertson

Dylan Robertson
Parliamentary bureau chief

In Ottawa, Dylan enjoys snooping through freedom-of-information requests and asking politicians: "What about Manitoba?"

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