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Holiday shopping in Canada: Supply chain issues, delivery deadlines – CTV News

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BARRIE —
Canada Post says it is adding additional staff and vehicles in anticipation of another busy holiday season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Canada Post told CTVNews.ca in an email Saturday that the company “continues to ramp up for a busy peak holiday season as Canadians have become much more comfortable shopping online during the pandemic.”

The company said in 2020, during the two weeks ending on Christmas Eve, its employees delivered almost 20 million parcels to Canadians. A record 2.4 million of which were delivered on Dec. 21.

But, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and persistent global supply chain issues, should Canadians be worried about holiday package delivery delays?

Here’s a closer look at what’s going on.

GET HOLIDAY SHOPPING DONE EARLY

David Soberman is a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

He told CTVNews.ca that ultimately, shipping companies like Canada Post are the “last link,” when it comes to the global supply chain and getting goods to consumers.

“Most of the problems in the supply chain are occurring at the retail level and further upstream,” he said during a telephone interview on Saturday.

Beyond ramping up their capacity to deal with an influx of packages during the holiday season, Soberman said there’s not much else shipping companies can do to mitigate these issues for consumers.

He said customers should make sure they check the estimated delivery date listed online by retailers, to ensure their holiday gifts will arrive on time.

However, Soberman cautioned that some specific, popular items might be especially hard to find this year.

“What someone’s going to do if they go into Canadian Tire and they can’t find something – they’re going to start to look on Amazon.ca, or they’ll maybe they’ll look on Walmart.ca,” he said. “And then they’ll start looking on other sites.”

He said if everyone looking for the same item does the same, “eventually you won’t be able to get it.”

“And that’s what’s going to happen with some of the more popular items – certain toys, certain board games, certain electronics, etc.,” he said.

Consumers should try to get their holiday shopping done as early as possible, Soberman said, and should have back-up gift ideas for their loved ones, in case the item they want is unavailable.

Soberman also pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying if new variants are detected in Canada, or the pandemic? worsens, some areas could see new lockdowns or restrictions, which could impede holiday shopping.

“The sooner you get your shopping done the better,” he said.

WHAT HAS CANADA POST SAID?

Canada Post said it encourages customers to “take the time and do their research online with retailers to understand the availability of certain items and ensure they aren’t disappointed.”

The company has also released a schedule for sending holiday cards and packages. The dates vary depending on what you are sending and where.

The deadline to send a package by regular mail to an address in Canada is Dec. 9, while customers have until Dec. 21 to ship priority packages within Canada.

The deadline to send a card nationally is Dec. 17.

The full details, including deadlines to send packages internationally can be found here.

Canada Post said the company is also taking several measures to keep up with the busy holiday season.

The company said it is hiring 4,200 additional seasonal staff across the country and is adding 1,400 more vehicles to its fleet.

Canada Post is also “leveraging new sortation capacity” recently added in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Kitchener, Montreal and Moncton.

The company said it is also adding “temporary parcel pickup locations” in major urban centres and secondary markets to “ease congestion and lineups for holiday parcel pickup at some of our busier post offices.”

WHAT HAS UPS SAID?

In an email to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for UPS didn’t note any shipping delay concerns, but said the company’s “dedicated employees make UPS well-equipped to handle the challenges of the pandemic and the peak holiday season.”

The company said by the end of next year, it will have also added 49 new aircraft to its fleet since 2017, and said it will have added two million square feet of automated facilities by the end of the year. According to UPS, almost 90 per cent of its packages will flow through these automated facilities.

UPS said the investments in additional air and ground capacity and technology means it can process about 130,000 more pieces of mail per hour than last year.

CTVNews.ca also reached out to Amazon and FedEx to determine if Canadian customers can expect to see shipping delays, but did not hear back by time of publication.  

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Amid Omicron, 700,000 Canadians flew abroad in December – CTV News

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TORONTO —
For many Canadians, the Omicron variant wasn’t going to stop their holiday travel plans.

Despite the federal government’s advisory against travelling outside of Canada amid surging COVID-19 cases taking effect midway through December, last month saw more international travel to and from Canada than any other period since the start of the pandemic.

Data collected by the Canada Border Services Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that 742,400 Canadians flew back into the country through Canadian airports in December. That’s a nearly eight-fold increase from December 2020, which only saw 93,800 Canadian travellers.

The week of Dec. 27 to Jan. 2, right after Christmas, saw the highest volume of travel into Canada. There were 215,665 Canadian citizens who returned to Canada by air that week.

For foreign nationals flying into Canada, Dec. 20 to 26 was the busiest week for travel. The data says 125,526 foreign nationals flew into the country that week and 352,900 for the entire month of December.

Although air travel appears to have rebounded significantly, these numbers are still a far cry from December 2019, which saw over 1.1 million Canadians and 577,800 foreign nationals travel by air.

At the land border, there were 608,900 Canadians returning from the U.S. in December, which is up four times from the previous year. Americans also took 291,600 trips to Canada that month.

In response to rising COVID-19 cases driven by Omicron, the federal government on Dec. 15 issued an advisory urging Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside of the country. The feds also tightened testing requirements at the border on Dec. 21, once again mandating that all travellers entering Canada present a negative molecular test result, regardless of trip length or vaccination status.

Cross-border trips also plummeted after the testing requirement went into effect. In the first 20 days of December, 24,600 Canadians on average returned from the U.S. After Dec. 21, the average fell to 10,600, less than half of what it was earlier in the month.

Travellers returning to Canada by air from any country other than the U.S. may also be randomly selected to undergo a PCR test on arrival. But as provinces struggle with their own PCR testing capacity, airports and airlines say testing arrival testing is not the best use of resources and have called on the federal government to drop the requirement.

On the U.S. side, the Department of Homeland Security now requires Canadians and other foreign travellers entering through its land borders to be fully vaccinated as of Saturday. Foreign travellers flying into the U.S. had already been required to present proof of vaccination.

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Pope confers lay ministries on women, formalising recognition of roles

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Pope Francis on Sunday for the first time conferred the lay Roman Catholic ministries of lector and catechist on women, roles that previously many had carried out without institutional recognition.

He conferred the ministries at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, where, in an apparent reference to resistance to change by some conservative, he criticised those who need to have rigid regulations and “more rules” in order to find God.

Last year, Francis changed Church law on the ministries of lector and acolyte, which mainly had been reserved to seminarians preparing for priesthood, saying he wanted to bring stability and public recognition to women already serving in the roles.

Lectors read from scripture, acolytes serve at Mass, and catechists teach the faith to children and adult converts.

The ministries of lector and acolyte existed before but were officially reserved to men. Francis instituted the ministry of the catechist last year.

At Sunday’s Mass the pope installed six women and two men as lectors and three women and five men as catechists. Francis gave a bible to each lector and a crucifix to each catechist.

The formalisation, including a conferral ceremony, will make it more difficult for conservative bishops to block women in their dioceses from taking on those roles.

The change will be particularly important as a recognition for women in places such as the Amazon, where some are the de facto religious leaders of remote communities hit by a severe shortage of priests.

The Vatican stressed that the roles are not a precursor to women one day being allowed to become priests. The Catholic Church teaches that only men can be priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.

Supporters of a female priesthood say Jesus was conforming to the customs of his times and that women played a greater role in the early Church than is commonly recognised.

Francis has appointed a number of women to senior jobs in Vatican departments previously held by men.

 

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Pope calls for world day of “prayer for peace” over Ukraine crisis

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Pope Francis on Sunday called for an international day of “prayer for peace” on January 26 to stop the Ukraine crisis from worsening, saying the tensions were threatening the security of Europe and risking vast repercussions.

Francis announced the prayer day and made the appeal for dialogue to defuse the crisis during his weekly address and blessing to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square.

Top U.S. and Russian diplomats failed https://www.reuters.com/world/top-diplomats-us-russia-meet-geneva-soaring-ukraine-tensions-2022-01-21 on Friday to make a major breakthrough in talks to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, although they agreed to keep talking. On Sunday, Britain accused Russia of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.

“I am following with concern the rising tensions that threaten to deliver a new blow to peace in Ukraine and put the security of Europe in doubt, with even more vast repercussions,” he said.

He appealed to “all people of good will” to pray next Wednesday so that all political initiatives “be for the service of human fraternity” rather than partisan interests. The Vatican gave no immediate details on how the pope would mark the day.

“Those who pursue their interests by damaging others are in contempt of his vocation as a man, because we were all created as brothers,” he said, without elaborating.

On Friday U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and warned of a “swift, severe” response if Russia invades Ukraine after massing troops near its border.

(Reporting by Philip PullellaEditing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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