Amid a contentious atmosphere of negotiations in which many public service employees are putting pressure on the Canadian government to improve wages and working conditions, small businesses could find themselves significantly affected by the outcome of a potential strike.
Canada Post is one of the most notable institutions at the centre of labour negotiations among the public sector, and a postal strike – which, although not formally announced, could come as soon as Wednesday depending on the outcome of ongoing talks – would be a major challenge for small businesses dependent on local and national mail for supply, shipping, and crucial document handling. CFIB member surveys show 61% of respondents indicated that Canada Post delivery services are very important to their operations.
A Canada Post labour stoppage could cost shipping-dependent small businesses significant revenue. This is especially true for businesses with an online or e-commerce component. If your business might be affected by delays or stoppages in shipping, be sure to send out notices to your customers letting them know that you will be working around these conditions for the foreseeable future.
What can small businesses do to compensate for potential disruptions to the postal system?
- Set up e-transfers for cash transactions between suppliers, vendors and other key business partners.
- Consider moving your accounts receivable and payables to online portals – not necessarily a move for the short term, but one that may streamline your operations down the road.
- If a Canada Post strike is confirmed, the CFIB will immediately contact banks and insurance companies to seek payment flexibility and some forgiveness on behalf of members. This may allow for some leniency on late mail including time-sensitive information such as bill payments or scheduled deliveries.
- Consider the effect of mail delays on your short term cash flow, and review the amount of cash on hand your business has available to cover costs during the term of a strike. Consider financing options that will allow you to retain a strong cash flow without requiring overpayment if business slows due to postal interruptions.