Canada Post | 140 km on foot per week

Some 140 km, approximately the equivalent of the distance between Montreal and Trois-Rivières. This is what urban postmen go through every week since they also have to assume the role of peddlers for the distribution of regional newspapers and advertising articles. Essential revenue for Canada Post, whose losses for 2023 total 748 million.

10 a.m. – 0 km


Since the death of Publisac, Canada Post mail carriers have been responsible for distributing circulars.

“Before, I loved my job. Now I have a job,” says Sébastien*, The Press accompanied him on his little daily marathon of 30 km. He guides our steps on this sunny Tuesday, having already accumulated two hours of sorting at his local office.

What has changed in recent weeks? The distribution by Canada Post of the Raddar advertising booklet, TC Transcontinental’s response to the abandonment of Publisac. In May, almost 4 million bargain collections of around 100 grams each will be distributed each week by the company which has managed letters and parcels since the founding of Canada in 1867.

Canada Post also delivers regional weeklies and a growing number of circulars since they left the plastic bags formerly distributed by independent workers. As a federal body, the postal company escapes the regulations of cities like Montreal, which prohibit the distribution of advertising items in mailboxes, unless voluntary membership (opt-in).

“You must find circulars boring? », says a walker in a wealthy residential area. “It’s quite a bit heavier, isn’t it? And that takes away work from the hawkers. »

In fact, more than 3,000 Publisac delivery workers saw their jobs disappear with the end of Publisac, according to TC Transcontinental.

11 a.m. – 5 km


Circulars and newspapers are systematically placed in mailboxes.

On the first third of the journey, devoted among other things to advertising material, we have to go to all the doors, with the exception of three or four bearing a “No flyers” sticker.

Cities should send stickers to all their residents to find out if they want flyers, just the newspaper, or nothing at all except letters and packages.

Sébastien, Canada Post postman

It is difficult for the postman to see so much paper immediately going to the green bin, with all the associated costs – transport, recycling, etc. – for municipal authorities.

Walking is sporty, despite a load that will reach up to approximately 11 kilograms (25 pounds). The maximum weight provided for by the collective agreement for urban mail carriers is 35 pounds, approximately the weight of a 4-year-old child.

Noon – 11 km


Sébastien suffers from epicondylitis, commonly called tennis elbow

More flyers mean more stops at relay cabinets. We will stop there about fifteen times during the day. In the pre-raddar era, a maximum of five stops were necessary, Sébastien explains.

Recently, through repetitive movements with his hand loaded with mail, Sébastien has developed epicondylitis; a pain in his elbow reminds him of this.

Sébastien fears another work stoppage. He sprained an ankle in 2020. “The world thinks it’s fun, being paid to walk, but it burns you. Since the restructuring, three colleagues have been on sick leave, including two due to back pain. »

In 2023, the frequency of injuries per 100 employees improved by 8% compared to the previous year, while the objective was 10%, indicates a report released Friday. However, this statistic concerns all staff, not just postmen.

“We have raised several examples of work accidents that have not been reported, due to the influence of supervisors who instead offer in-house adaptation measures,” adds the Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). in an internal publication distributed last September, that The Press obtained.

The CNESST refused our request for statistics on sick leave for mail carriers, explaining that it does not count this information.

1 p.m. – 16 km


If the role of many factors has changed, it is because Canada Post is trying by all means to fill its coffers while Canadians send 3.3 billion fewer letters than in 2006, for a total of 2.2 billion . The postal company announced last Friday pre-tax losses of 748 million in 2023, compared to a shortfall of 548 million the previous year.

An inevitable “restructuring” of work has resulted in more complex, longer and busier delivery routes, say union representatives contacted by The Press.

“We have a greater workload, but we don’t have more time and we don’t have more equipment,” laments Simon Caron, rural mail carrier and president of the Saint-Jérôme local section of CUPW. His members’ bags, he says, are overflowing with flyers and raddar. “The philosophy is: deal with it, and if you get hurt, don’t come and bother us. »

There will be a delay in mail.

Isabelle Leclerc-Dupuis, postwoman and union president of the Sorel local section

“Postmen will have to be absent,” warns Mme Leclerc-Dupuis.

“We can’t give up on work, but can we be paid and equipped accordingly to make it viable? “, she continues.

CUPW has been negotiating the next collective agreement for urban mail carriers since February 2024.

Canada Post did not respond to our specific questions, but it sent us a long email in which it explains that health and safety are its “top priority”.

To prepare for raddar distribution, “we have reviewed our operations and adjusted equipment to help our staff manage this volume, for example by providing carts to postmen, adding relay cabinets along delivery routes and shelves in postman’s stations,” writes a spokesperson.

3 p.m. – 22 km


The portion of the route devoted to flyers is complete. Our right ankle and groin are sore. Delivering letters and packages allows you to skip a door or two due to lack of mail.

From 3:30 p.m., Sébastien ventures into the inevitable overtime, costs that management was trying to avoid with its restructuring. Since he inherited his new route, our guide systematically exceeds his usual schedule by an hour or two, he confides.

A postman with a slower pace would risk finishing at dark, if he finishes at all.

We’re not supposed to be in endurance sport, we’re in public service.

Sébastien, Canada Post postman

“In our agreement, there are weight limits, but not route length,” explains Yannick Scott, national director for CUPW, Metropolitan Montreal region. “Routes are calculated based on service percentage (the ratio of doors served), but this calculation is based on lettermail service. »

The radar and circulars require a service rate of almost 100%, which adds many excess trips excluded from the measurement system.

In Montreal, for example, postmen must make multiple trips to their truck, which serves as a relay box, to transport an acceptable load.

4:30 p.m. – 30 km

At the end of an endless row of bungalows, our work day is over. Not that of our guide, who must begin sorting the circulars distributed the next day. He will finish around 5:30 p.m., with pain in his knee and groin.

The next morning, our body cries for help. Sébastien is on his way to a first box filled with gray-beige mail pockets. He is preparing to experience yet another small marathon.

* Sébastien asked to withhold his name, not having been authorized to speak publicly about the situation.

In numbers


Drop in letter volume from 2006 to 2023, according to Canada Post

1.5 to 2.5 cents

Amount affected by urban factors for each circular distributed


Hourly salary of the postman we support. He has been in office for over 10 years.


Approximate number of gates covered by our route


Number of dogs that barked when we arrived


Addresses we did not visit due to a dangerous dog or access problem


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