© Nigel Armstrong - The Guardian
Chris Clay, left, listens to Scott Gaudet, a postal worker from Summerside prior to the start of a public meeting in Charlottetown Monday. Clay is chair of the Charlottetown local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and hosted the meeting to shed light on massive changes pending for Canada Post.
There are massive changes coming to postal service on P.E.I. and union members want Islanders to gear up for a fight.
Local members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers hosted the first in a series of public meetings Monday in Charlottetown at the Murphy Community Centre.
Local president Chris Clay said details are impossible to obtain, creating a situation of smoke and mirrors regarding the future of postal service.
He said people might be surprised by the facts. Email and electronic billing have reduced a portion of mail, but it has been more than offset by Internet purchasing.
"We are seeing an explosion of on-line shopping," said Clay. "A lot of what I carry as a letter carrier day to day is little packets that people are ordering on-line. We deliver that door to door.
"In 1996 we moved 8.2 billion pieces of mail. In 2012 we moved 9.6 billion," said Clay.
The corporation has different divisions, including its purchase of Purolator Courier Ltd., and overall, it makes a huge profit, the meeting was told.
Its postal office division could offer banking services, as is done in many other countries, offering a new stream of revenue, said Scott Gaudet, a postal worker from Summerside.
Clay said Canada Post has a promotion in place to encourage people to use on-line billing, an absurd promotion for a mail-delivery company.
"There doesn't seem to be any logic to any of it," said Charlottetown Councillor Edward Rice of the proposed cuts and changes.
"When you ask for a clear answer, you don't get one," said Clay. "It just seems to be a purposeful dismantling of the company."
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Gaudet said he thinks the goal is privatization.
"I think it's important that people do start to understand what's happening to the post office," said Gaudet. "The current government wants to cut it up and sell it off to their friends."
There are currently 42 letter carriers in the Charlottetown district, serving 31 mail routes, said Clay.
"Every three routes will become one so we will go from 31 to 10, maybe 12 letter carriers," he said,
Most residents will get mail at new community mailbox sites that have yet to be constructed.
Where will they go, especially in the downtown, asked Coun. Rice.
"If you look at the postal boxes around town where, I guess, they pick up mail, they are kicked, they are banged, they are knocked over, there is graffiti on them," he said. "It's a maintenance problem."
The meeting heard that rural delivery is also going to be affected as Canada Post declares more and more private roadside mailboxes as unsuitable and moves more rural mailbox customers to community box sites.
"I have yet to meet anyone who thinks (these changes) are a good idea," said Clay.
The meeting heard that Canada Post has launched a five-point restructuring plan but no one can find out exactly when the cuts will come to P.E.I.
The public needs to rally in support of keeping door-to-door delivery and all aspects the current service, the meeting heard.
"The people realizing what they are about to lose is going to help the most, because that is who puts the X on the vote," said Rice.