Canada must keep door-to-door postal delivery

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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By Herb Dickieson (Guest Opinion)

Canada Post

It is of grave concern to Islanders that Stephen Harper’s government decided to cut Canada Post and eliminate door-to-door delivery without meaningful discussion or consultation with Canadians.  

Canada Post Corporation — an institution that predates Confederation — was created to provide a high standard of postal service that meets the needs of the people of Canada. It has done so for over 150 years, and has been profitable for most of that time, including the recent 2012 figures, and 16 of the last 17 years.

Rather than strengthening our national postal service to help keep it competitive, the Harper government has irresponsibly raised the price of postage stamps by 59 per cent overnight and is busy slashing postal services and jobs to a level unseen anywhere else in the developed world. Once Mr. Harper’s radical changes are complete, Canada will be the only major industrial country in the world without any door-to-door mail delivery.

The Harper government quickly attempted to downplay the massive price increases and service cuts by claiming the changes will only affect “a few wealthy downtowners.”  On the contrary, it has been reported that close to four million apartment and condo dwellers whose mail is delivered to their building mailboxes will no longer receive that service, and close to three-quarter million rural residents with individual rural route mailboxes will eventually be moved to community mailboxes, along with an additional two million Canadians who live in smaller towns and use general delivery or post office boxes.

While some of these Canadians may be “wealthy downtowners”, the majority are average Canadians including seniors and the disabled who will be forced into using outdoor community mailboxes regardless of their ability to do so.

Stephen Harper’s decision making can only be explained by his government’s recent but hushed announcement that it was ordering Canada Post to delay addressing its unfunded pension liabilities until 2018 — well after the next election.  By kicking the pension can down the road for another government to deal with Mr. Harper neatly passes the buck and avoids having to pay for Canada Post’s $1-billion pension shortfall next year, something that would have sunk his plan to go to the polls in 2015 with a balanced budget. Mr. Harper seems to think it is acceptable to radically cut Canada’s postal system solely to improve his election prospects, putting his party ahead of the interests of Canadians.

Being fiscally responsible is important, but forcing Canada’s seniors and disabled to outdoor community mailboxes subject to theft, vandalism and poor weather, and denying them their door-to-door delivery of important items including medications for the sole benefit of Stephen Harper’s electoral prospects is not only wrong, it’s shameful.  

Canadians have agreed on the services they want . . . and that includes Canada Post and door-to-door delivery.  No other developed country in the world is going down this path, and neither should we.  

Dr. Herb Dickieson is a family physician practising in Prince County and is a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.

Organizations: Canada Post Corporation, Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island

Geographic location: Canada, Prince

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