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.

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

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

UPDATED: Almost 1,200 people allowed to return home in Kootenay-Boundary as floods dry up

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Most Read