Steep surcharges for mailing parcels may dampen holiday spirits

MONTREAL — Canadians and small businesses sending parcels this holiday season may be surprised to see a steep surcharge on domestic shipping due to the high price of diesel.

One small business owner from Surrey, B.C. said she was shocked by the cost of a recent shipment with Canada Post.

Deb Baldry creates reusable face masks and bags made out of sustainably sourced material such as cork for her business, Deb's Bags.

While Baldry is satisfied with Canada Post as a service, she said "it's the costs associated with it, it's shocking and all of us makers are trying to find something else we can do."

This week, Baldry shipped a $75 bag for $18.97, including a fuel surcharge of $5.12.

The Canadian postal service's package surcharge rose to nearly 40 per cent last week on domestic parcels and fell slightly to 37 per cent this week.

The fuel-based surcharge has been a standard company practice for more than 20 years and is based on the average price of diesel as measured by Kalibrate Technologies Ltd., said Phil Rogers, spokesman for Canada Post in an emailed statement.

"Fuel surcharges are applied year-round as a standard industry practice for parcel shippers," he said.

Baldry is among the many who started operating her small business full-time during the pandemic.

Rogers said that Canada Post services thousands of small businesses across Canada that saw a particular spike in e-commerce after the pandemic.

"We expect that to continue this holiday season," he said.

However, Baldry said she has shifted her business model to accommodate for the postal fees, opting to sell the majority of her merchandise at local markets rather than online.

"I actually dread when people purchase things from my website," said Baldry.

Despite the higher-than-normal prices, Canada Post anticipates a busy holiday season as Rogers said the postal service has hired 4,500 additional staff and 1,550 more vehicles to accommodate the holiday shipping surge.

Deadlines for domestic shipping vary on priority, but regular parcels shipped in Canada should be sent between Dec. 9 and 19 to arrive in time for Christmas.

Even sooner is the deadline to ship internationally, which varies depending on the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

Caitlin Yardley, The Canadian Press