The U.S. Postal Service – like much of the world – has had a tough year, battling budget cuts alongside unprecedented demand in services and politicization of its work.
The agency could likely use some cheering up – perhaps in the form of a friendly postcard from colleagues across the border at the Canada Post.
Last week, Canada Post began sending out free, prepaid postcards to each of the country’s roughly 13.5 million households. The idea is for recipients to write to someone they’ve been missing or who many need a smile, said Sylvie Lapointe, a spokeswoman for Canada Post.
The postcards come in six versions, with phrases such as “I’ve been meaning to write,” or “Wishing I were there,” and “Sending hugs,” in both English and French.
“Meaningful connection is vital for our emotional health, sense of community and overall well-being,” Doug Ettinger, President and CEO of Canada Post, said in a statement. “Canada Post wants everyone to stay safe, but also stay in touch with the people who matter to them.”
The cards will be shipped out over a two-week period to provide carriers flexibility for deliveries, Lapointe said. By relying on the service’s pre-existing network, Canada Post can include the postcards in a household’s usual bundle at effectively no extra cost, she said. Mailing a postcard in Canada generally costs around the equivalent of 75 cents in the United States.
Lapointe said the postcard idea developed after the postal service noticed an uptake in people sending greeting cards over the holidays. In September, Canada also launched program called “Write Here Write Now” to encourage people to write more to one another.
As the cards have begun to arrive, some people have taken it as an opportunity to air their grievances with politicians, such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, by addressing their postcards to them, according to social media posts.
Others have expressed appreciation for the postcards and followed Canada Post’s instructions to the letter.
Lapointe said Canada Post has faced a steep and constant learning curve throughout the pandemic.
When it began last year, there was a rush to put in new safety mechanisms for postal workers and the households they serve. Then there was the struggle to get ahead of backlogs, delays, and record volumes of parcels being sent each time a different part of the country closed down or reopened or closed again.
“We’ve had delays with mail throughout the year,” she said. “We’ve had our challenges, as well, but we’ve continued to provide an essential service at all times across the country this past year.”
Now along with letters, Postal Canada is hoping “to deliver a smile,” Lapointe said.