Canada Post to make urban mail carriers extinct in sweeping changes to eliminate massive deficit
© Guardian photo
Canada Post mailboxes
For Canada Post, one letterbox fits all. The decision to eliminate postal delivery service in urban areas of the country is supported by valid financial arguments, declining volume and a $6-billion pension liability.
Looking at the ledgers, it all made perfect sense, especially when Canada Post says its five-year plan will save $900 million and avoid a projected $1 billion a year operating deficit by 2020.
But then, you ask about the personal fallout of the decision and the rationale doesn’t become quite so sensible.
What about seniors and the disabled who cannot get to a group mailbox in urban areas?
What about the 7,000 to 8,000 fewer mail carriers who will be unemployed by Canada Post in five years? There were promises made to take care of the layoffs through attrition but it still means thousands of good-paying jobs are being eliminated.
What about the decision to make the announcement last week just hours after the Commons adjourned for an extended Christmas holiday break?
What about the announcement coming just two weeks before Christmas and with no advance warning to unions which were blindsided by the announcement?
What about the announcement that individual stamp costs will jump to $1 in March? What about the lack of an in-depth study on the potential impact?
Canada Post says its volume numbers just don’t support offering some services anymore but one could argue that Canada Post forced customers to go elsewhere because of its higher costs and reductions in service.
It’s true that electronic mail has played a major role in the decline of Canada Post, as most bills and other paper are now delivered electronically. The electronic revolution has made the post office appear like a dinosaur only because the post office failed to adapt to the changing times and left itself vulnerable. It became irrelevant for many Canadians and businesses, which today rely less on conventional mail and more on electronic transactions and solutions.
Only a third of Canadian households still receive mail at home, but that still is a significant number. In 2006, Canada Post delivered roughly five billion pieces of domestic lettermail. That number has dropped to roughly four billion pieces, and about 30 per cent of that decline was in 2012 alone. While the mail volume has dropped, the number of new residences in urban areas has increased so we have more customers getting less mail, creating an economic nightmare.
Charities warn that increasing costs for stamps and delivery services will cost them dearly. Rising postal rates will have a big impact on small businesses that rely on snail mail.
The post office believes it will be out of the red by 2019 as a result of these initiatives but just what will be left? Every member of the European Union has privatized its postal service or allowed competition. The result is better service and new ventures, such as banking. If there is money to be made, perhaps mail services could be privatized or encourage more competition, much like courier companies which have eaten into the delivery of packages and parcels.
Snail mail is on a rapid downslide and Canada Post with it.
Mail delivery by drones may sound like science fiction, but maybe the post office can get the patent rights and embark on this new and lucrative space odyssey.