Utility companies and local governments are starting to warn people about possible disruptions in mail service, should there be a strike or lockout at Canada Post.

The current contract between the Crown agency and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers expired last summer.

A work stoppage affecting 40,000 employees including both urban and rural delivery personnel is possible anytime on or after July 2.

Although both sides are bargaining, they say they are far apart on a number of key issues.

In a warning to its major customers, Canada Post accused the union of preparing to strike.

Speaking to CTV News, spokesperson Jon Hamilton said the agency is looking to get “a more flexible model” through contract negotiations.

"We need a model that allows us to deliver on evenings and weekends and peak times without having to pay double time, which is pricing us out of the market,” he said.

For its part, the union is concerned about items like job security and pension reform.

"The union is currently conducting strike votes across the country, and we are getting prepared in the event that the employer does decide to lock us out," said Jennifer Savage of CUPW.

Outside agencies and organizations are already making plans in preparation for a possible labour disruption.

The County of Brant announced this week that it is mailing out its property tax bills two weeks early, to ensure they get to property owners before the Aug. 2 payment deadline.

Some utility companies – including Energy+, which provides electricity to Cambridge, North Dumfries and the County of Brant – are reminding their customers about non-mail options for paying their bills, including electronic billing, automatic payment, and paying through their banks.

Canada Post workers found themselves locked out in 2011, only to be legislated back to work by the federal government.

With files from CTV Vancouver