BARRETT: Let's all be a little more grateful for what we have

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The hardest part about working at a newspaper is dealing with people who don’t fully read what is written, or can’t distinguish an opinion piece from an article.

The next hardest part is learning how to craft pieces that can’t be read any other way than that which you intended, as the nuances of the English language are tricky. I’m not sure it’s possible to achieve, but I certainly try.

Last week, I wrote a column on postal workers. I knew it was going to unpopular amongst that group, but I didn’t expect the comments back to not actually respond to what was written itself, or the point of the piece.

So I pushed my original column for this week to next week in order to clarify a few things. I’ll even own that perhaps I should’ve been clearer in the first place. Word count/space is sometimes a necessary evil.

Firstly, the purpose of last week’s column is as the headline of this week’s says – we all need to be more grateful for what we have, but it was written through the lens of a non-Canada Post worker to give it relevancy to the events of today, rather than have it become a holiday fluff piece.

It was not exonerating Canada Post. It wasn’t really about the strike. It was specifically about benefits and perks postal workers receive which aren’t ones the very people most affected by the strikes have.

Consider the small business owners who don’t have benefit plans, who work at all hours of the day just to get work done. Consider those, like the mail-order businesses who rely on Christmas to pay their bills for the rest of the year, who live in areas where Canada Post is the only option to ship their goods and now have to refund orders because they will not make it in time.

Perhaps most importantly, consider a Global News report released just this past Saturday, Dec. 8, in which Imagine Canada, a national charitable organization that is the umbrella for non-profits and charities in the country, said the Canada Post backlog is hurting charities across the country.

“Charities, and the communities they serve, count on reliable postal services for reaching donors and receiving contributions,” said Bruce MacDonald, Imagine Canada President and CEO in a statement on their website. “Any disruptions to postal services, especially at this crucial time of year, have negative consequences for charities and their ability to provide services to vulnerable individuals and communities.”

Global News said the statement was echoed by Ted Garrard, the CEO of the SickKids Foundation, who said December is the most critical, where the hospital receives close to $2 million via mailed donations. The charities not already feeling the revenue crunch are expected to feel it soon.

The people who use these organizations aren’t the ones with benefit plans, job security. They struggle to put food on the table, they don’t have the ability to take holidays, own a vehicle – much less for work where they receive $6 per day to cover wear-and-tear – nor pay for gas.

But tell me more about how people who are obviously able to pay for cell phone plans, internet services and spend their Friday-Sunday afternoons online going after anyone who dares to question them are the real victims.

There is a larger picture here.

Is Canada Post perfect? Is it fantastic? Absolutely not. I did explicitly say injuries needed to be addressed. This could be through additional health and safety training, or by implementing community boxes and eliminating risks for workers – the very same who opposed the idea and are now upset they face those risks walking door-to-door.

Part of the problem is the federal government’s refusal to allow Canada Post to remain self-sustaining and realize $350 million in savings annually by cutting door-to-door delivery to 4.2 million addresses, a move which is now making the Crown corporation reliant on the government, and thereby the taxpayer. That, however, is something to delve into another day.

As for delivery times and backlogs, explain the lack of donations received by charities, the number of people complaining on Twitter about multi-month delays. Explain an Express Post package that normally arrives in two days taking two weeks? Some areas, some people, may be more fortunate than others, but there is plenty of evidence to prove a significant backlog in general.

People are welcome to disagree. They’re welcome to suggest I know nothing or say I should go “for a ride one day and see what (postal workers) do.” (But I have. I have family and friends in the postal business and as explained before, I have carried around a satchel of a 100 newspapers going door-to-door delivering on a cracked foot).

At this time of year, however, I think it’s important for everyone to take a step back from the negatives, focusing on what could/should be better and be grateful for what they do have and I will continue to stand behind that.

Regardless of plight, someone, somewhere is worse off, and in this case, Canada Post strikes certainly haven’t helped them.