Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
NDP calls for forum
Wants Canadians to weigh in on mailboxes
OTTAWA -- The federal NDP wants Canada Post to temporarily halt an end to door-to-door mail delivery until national consultations can be held with all Canadians.
NDP Canada Post critic Alexandre Boulerice sat at a desk partially hidden by a pile of petitions from thousands of Canadians he says want to keep the mail coming right to their front door.
"People like their public postal service, and they want to keep them," Boulerice said in a news conference from the National Press Theatre in Ottawa. "We are asking you to stop and have a good transparent public forum."
Last December, the Crown corporation announced it would be phasing out home delivery in favour of community mailboxes. About two-thirds of Canadian households, mostly in suburban and rural communities, already have their mail delivered to community mailboxes or post offices. The remaining one-third, about 5.1 million households mostly in urban Canada, still receive door-to-door service at a cost of $289 million a year. In Winnipeg, more than two-thirds of homes are still part of this service.
Canada Post said it is fighting a losing battle against technology that has seen bills and correspondence move online and needs to modernize its services to stop the budget drain. Household mail has dropped about 25 per cent in the last five years, the equivalent of about one billion fewer pieces of mail.
Moving to community mailboxes will eliminate 6,000 to 8,000 positions, mostly mail carriers, in the process.
Boulerice said it will make Canada the only country in the G7 without door-to-door mail delivery.
The backlash against the decision was swift, and Canadians are fighting to keep their mail.
Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureux said he has had a lot of constituents raise the issue with him, on the phone or in person.
"It's upset quite a few people," he said. "Canada Post has really dropped the ball here."
The first Winnipeggers to see their mail delivery change live mostly in Lamoureux's riding. About 400 new community mailboxes are expected to be up in the Maples, Garden City and West Kildonan this fall.
Lamoureux, a Liberal, said he was shocked at the lack of consultation Canada Post provided on the decision both to cut door-to-door service, and in where the actual boxes will be set up.
Both Boulerice and Lamoureux said they think this is a sneaky attempt by the government to eventually privatize mail delivery in Canada. Boulerice said the corporation has made money in 17 of the last 19 years and accused the government of making a knee-jerk decision to cancel door-to-door delivery last year, which was a particularly bad one for the Crown agency. It reported an operating loss of $193 million for 2013.
However, it has recorded a before-tax profit of $26 million for the first two quarters of 2014, compared with a $36 million loss for the same period in 2013. Boulerice said that is evidence of the fact Canada Post doesn't need to cut services in order to stay in the black.
The Crown corporation disagrees, noting mail volumes fell another 4.7 per cent in the first half of 2014, a reduction of about 117 million fewer pieces of mail.
"While Canadians are mailing less, they are ordering more parcels online," reads a written statement released by Canada Post. "This fundamental shift in Canadian mailing behaviours will continue to drive the need for the 5 Point Plan, and we are making good progress."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2014 A6
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