Canada Post scraps ‘northern flat rate box’ after charities decry unfair treatment for the North – North

When Canada Post introduced a special “Remote Northern Canada box” last month to ship items up North at a flat rate, it didn’t last long.

That’s because the pilot program’s box was higher in price and smaller in size than its Canada-wide counterpart — the regular flat rate box — which gives Canadians the option to ship anything that fits in the box, and is less than 5 kg, for a flat rate.

Southern charities and donors that send food and goods to the North suddenly had to reckon with the new northern boxes, and they weren’t impressed.

“We’re paying more for less,” said Susan Fahidy, executive director of the not-for-profit Friends of the North based in Kitchener, Ont.

The regular flat rate boxes are still available, but only in 60 post offices out of 6,200 across Canada. (Submitted by Susan Fahidy)

The northern box was introduced on Dec. 18 last year. It cost $34.99 for a medium-sized box (no other sizes available) to ship to coastal B.C., parts of Labrador and “the Far North.”

That compares to the flat rate of $14.99 for a small, $19.99 for medium and $24.99 for a large-sized flat rate box to ship to the rest of Canada. Those boxes were introduced as a pilot program in November 2016, and are only available in certain post offices in major regions (60 out of 6,200 Canada Post offices carry the boxes). The prices increased recently from the original 2016 prices.

‘We’re just moms,’ says Fahidy

Fahidy says Friends of the North relies 100 per cent on volunteer donations; the original flat rate box program had been saving the group a lot of money, despite having to drive several hours to a post office that has them.

“It was a huge difference. It dropped our costs down by about two thirds,” said Fahidy. 

The group has been sending items to food banks in communities since 2015. It ships mostly to Arctic Bay, Nunavut, but also to several other remote Nunavut communities such as Hall Beach, Sanikiluaq, Grise Fiord…

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