Post office lockout delays HST ballots

Thousands of ballots for B.C.'s harmonized sales tax referendum were being stored in post offices after Canada Post locked out its urban employees across the country Wednesday.

Postal workers picket at a South Surrey office Wednesday.

Postal workers picket at a South Surrey office Wednesday.

VICTORIA – Thousands of ballots for B.C.’s harmonized sales tax referendum were being stored in post offices after Canada Post locked out its urban employees across the country Wednesday.

Elections BC has prepared a contingency plan for post office disruptions, as officials try to get more than three million ballots delivered to homes across the province by June 24.

Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt told CTV Wednesday that since Canada Post moved from rotating strikes to a complete shutdown, the government will consider introducing back-to-work legislation. The strikes have cost Canada Post an estimated $1 million in lost revenue, and before the lockout management reduced urban mail delivery to three days a week.

Craig James, B.C.’s acting chief electoral officer at Elections BC, said Wednesday that no changes to the referendum timetable were being contemplated “at this time.” If the post office dispute drags into next week, Elections BC has the option to push back the deadline for returning completed ballots beyond the current date of July 22.

Elections BC officials said they will adjust their schedule if necessary to give voters the same amount of time to consider how they will vote.

Ballot packages went in the mail on Monday to regions outside Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. They were scheduled to go out to those areas starting June 20.

Voters who receive their ballots can return them to one of 60 Service B.C. (formerly government agent) offices around the province instead of putting them in the mail.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon urged people to vote “no” to the referendum question, which asks whether voters want to “extinguish” the HST and go back to the 12-per-cent federal and provincial sales tax.

Former premier and Fight HST organizer Bill Vander Zalm is running an advertising campaign urging people to vote yes, reminding people of the additional seven per cent tax extended to restaurant meals and a long list of services.

Faced with a strong public backlash against the HST, the B.C. and federal governments have committed to lower the rate to 11 per cent in 2012, and to 10 per cent in 2014.

Rebates of $175 for each child under 18 and each senior with an annual income less than $40,000 have been promised to cover extra costs until the rate can be lowered.

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read