Shocking, devastating and growing—these are the words Canada Post officials are using to describe the toll illicit opioid use is taking on Canadians across the country.
Each year, nearly 300 million parcels move through the Crown corporation’s network, and some nefarious individuals use the postal service to ship illicit substances such as fentanyl, heroin and other recreational drugs.
“The word is out there that you don’t use the courier service, you use Canada Post because of the limitations to law enforcement,” Mike Serr, chief of the Abbotsford Police Department and co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Drug Advisory Committee, told Maclean’s this March. “We have not yet understood why Canada Post has a resistance with us getting new authorities that are similar to other companies.”
The situation has Canada Post “concerned about the risks to the health and well-being of its employees, and to the Canadians we serve,” it said in a statement released earlier this week.
“Beyond our moral and legal duties to keep employees safe and to prevent illegal use of the mail, our employees work in neighbourhoods where opioid use is widespread. They see some of its impact on Canadian streets. They care – and so do we.”
Despite the statement, spokesperson Jon Hamilton told Maclean’s there’s only a “small” chance of dangerous goods being shipped through the mail system.
“We have long-standing practices and processes in place to address any issues, with a team of postal inspectors who work closely with police across the country,” Hamilton told Maclean’s. “Not just on seizure of items, but on supporting their investigations.”
Postal inspectors have the authority to inspect mail, and if illegal drugs are found, they are removed from the postal system and turned over to law enforcement.
Canada Post has not opposed any legislative changes suggested by law enforcement, it said in its statement earlier this week.
“In fact, we are open to ideas that legislators and policy-makers believe could better protect Canadians and our employees.”
Until legislation or regulations are changed, the Crown corporation’s postal inspectors will “cooperate and collaborate fully with all law enforcement and government agencies to intercept and remove illicit drugs from the mail.”
“Our collaboration with law enforcement occurs in several ways, including coordinated inspections, joint investigations, enhanced real-time security intelligence, and collaborating with them to execute search warrants for items that have been posted. In addition, we have several security, screening and safety protocols in place to help us identify suspicious items. As a precaution, we have also made naloxone kits available at our processing facilities, and we work with Health Canada and our Joint Health and Safety Committee to ensure our approach is effective.”