Electronic communication has taken a grim toll at Canada Post. Canadians have read of two big changes: On March 31, the stamp price skyrockets to $1 from 63 cents, a 59 per cent increase, and door-to-door delivery ends.
The actual plan is not quite that bad.
-- Single stamps will cost $1 but by the package 85 cents, a 35 per cent increase.
-- Delivery in rural areas will continue.
-- About one-third of Canadian households will lose home delivery, phased in over five years.
-- Delivery to apartment blocks, seniors homes and other centralized points will continue.
Given Canada Post will lose about $400 million this year, and a projected $1 billion by 2020, something must be done. Canada Post's remedy is puzzling. Only a competition-sheltered government monopoly could see a solution, instead of a downward spiral, in reducing services while sharply raising costs.
There is a better multi-faceted option.
First, present door-to-door delivery should continue for five years. This would permit seniors and disabled people to make residence decisions.
Second, stamp cost should be adjusted to 65 cents, not 85 cents.
Third, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers should accept adjustment of benefits to save the system. The average worker's $23.11 wage is realistic but the 11 paid holidays, vacations between three and seven weeks, the double-time wages for a sixth or seventh day of work, many other generous benefits, and a generous pension after 30 years at age 55 need adjustment.
Fourth, postal delivery should be reduced to three days a week -- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In this electronic age, that should meet all needs.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers should not expect much public support in their current plight. Many Canadians recall the CUPW ignored the public interest during its 42-day strike in 1981, which cost businesses a reported $3 billion. Or the other 18 costly work stoppages in the last 50 years. Or the 1978 strike when the union defied back-to-work legislation.
Now, however, the CUPW, Canada Post and the public must co-operate to save a key public service.
John H. Redekop is an adjunct professor at Trinity Western University, Langley, B.C.