Two weeks ago, the May 25 issue of the North Grenville Times was delayed in being delivered to local readers. That paper should have been delivered to homes on Wednesday, but it was instead delivered on Friday. This type of delay is new for the Times, and it is perhaps an indication of current economic uncertainty nationwide.
The May 25 issue was the second last to be printed by Maclaren Press Graphics, which was forced to close its doors at the end of May due to rising costs and supply chain issues. The papers from Maclaren were ordinarily delivered by an Ottawa delivery company to Canada Post for distribution. However, a shortage of drivers delayed this process for the May 25 issue. Thankfully, the delivery company was able to expedite the delivery of the papers to ensure readers would have their copy of the Times before the weekend. However, the driver shortage speaks to a growing problem across most employment sectors – a significant labour shortage. The delivery company did not respond to a request for comment on some of the current issues hurting the delivery industry.
For the June 1 issues of the NG Times, and sister paper, North Dundas Times, delivery delays were expected again. Not wanting a delay similar to the one that occurred the previous week, Maggie Boyer and Melissa Ottenhof drove to Ottawa to personally collect the papers. No blame or malice is extended to the delivery company – the labour shortage is no one’s fault and cannot be controlled by individual companies. Speculation might suggest that one serious issue for delivery companies at the moment is the cost of fuel. Gasoline and diesel power the delivery industry, and so there are few factors that can increase expenses for these companies to quite the same magnitude as fuel costs.
Across all industries, high inflation is taking a significant toll. With rising costs of housing, food, and fuel, minimum wage jobs are becoming much less viable for employees with high bills to pay. Whether this is directly linked to the labour shortage is unclear, but it is certainly possible. Many companies have begun offering raises and other incentives to help hire employees, but employers feel the effects of inflation as well, and many simply can’t afford to pay the rates necessary to retain workers.
On June 1, the Bank of Canada raised the base interest rate to 1.5%, which is the second recent major increase. The purpose of this was to help cool out-of-control inflation. It remains to be seen whether this will help ensure sustainability for businesses, but the move will almost certainly calm the housing market. Or perhaps not quite yet, as Times owner Maggie Boyer recently joked to me, “Write something on the decline of civilization and how we will be living in caves in a few years!”
The Times will continue to serve the local community with pride. Beginning with the current issue, delivery of the paper will be on Thursdays, rather than Wednesdays.