(CNN) -- Mail delivery across Canada came to an abrupt halt Wednesday after the corporation responsible for running the nation's postal service suspended its operations and locked out striking workers.
Canada Post suspended operations late Tuesday night. In a prepared statement, the company said 12 days of rotating strikes have racked up $100 million in losses for the corporation.
The union is protesting the corporation's plan to cut medical and pension benefits.
"If we allow the uncertainty created by the rotating strikes to continue, we will not be able to remain financially self-sufficient and (we will) risk becoming a burden on Canadian taxpayers," the company's statement read.
"We believe that a lockout is the best way to bring a timely resolution to this impasse and force the union to seriously consider proposals that address declining mail volumes and the $3.2 billion pension deficit," Canada Post stated.
A representative of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said the blame for shutting down the nation's mail delivery system lies squarely with Canada Post. Robert Garnier, CUPW representative for the Atlantic Region, told CNN Wednesday morning that the reason the union called for rotating strikes was to prevent the total shutdown of mail delivery in Canada.
The union issued the strike notice on May 30.
"We fully expected it to happen," Garnier said of the lockout. "We think it's a strategic move to bring an end to this legal strike action."
Garnier also belittled concerns expressed by Canada Post in the statement about recent incidents that "have raised concerns about the ability to move the mail while keeping employees and customers safe."
The statement does not cite examples. Garnier called the claim "media spin."
Canada Post in the statement pledged that "plans are in place to secure all mail that is left in the system during the lockout, and to resume normal operations quickly once the current situation is resolved."