Raitt defends Canada Post move to phase out urban mail delivery; others cry foul

OTTAWA – The demise of door-to-door mail delivery in Canada’s urban centres loomed large over a dormant Parliament Hill on Wednesday as critics denounced the timing of a bombshell decision that Conservatives defended as a necessary evil.

Day 1 of the House of Commons holiday break was only hours old when Canada Post abruptly announced it planned to phase out door-to-door urban delivery, slash jobs and dramatically increase the price of stamps.

As many as 8,000 jobs are on the line due to the cuts, which are expected to impact a third of all Canadian households. Rural residences will be spared.

“There are really serious concerns being raised about this and yet we have the government announcing it after the House is adjourned, and that tells you everything you want to know about how they think Canadians are going to react,” said NDP MP Peter Julian.

“It’s profoundly disrespectful to Canadians and disrespectful to Parliament …. They’re trying to shuffle this off and I think Canadians will be profoundly appalled about the cuts in services and cuts in jobs across the country.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was equally disdainful.

“The timing is a demonstration of a tremendous level of cynicism by this government,” Trudeau said.

“This is a government trying to minimize what they know is bad news as they announce that Stephen Harper is offering less postal services for more money from consumers in the coming years.”

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said her government supports Canada Post’s decision, noting it has had a mandate to operate on a self-sustaining basis since 1981. The Crown corporation says its five-point cost-cutting plan is aimed at returning the company to financial stability by 2019.

Canadians are sending fewer letters and parcels than ever, leaving Canada Post with no choice but to enact some tough financial measures in an effort to combat a steep decline in revenues, Raitt said.

A typical Canadian household buys only one to two dozen stamps a year, and mail volumes have continued to plummet, having fallen nearly 25 per cent per household since 2008, she added.

“The government of Canada supports Canada Post in its efforts to fulfil its mandate of operating on a self-sustaining financial basis in order to protect taxpayers, while modernizing its business and aligning postal services with the choices of Canadians,” Raitt said in a statement.

She adds she is looking forward to “seeing progress” as Canada Post rolls out its cost-cutting plans.

But Trudeau said the decision doesn’t appear to be based on any in-depth study of its potential impact, and wasn’t preceded by any meaningful discussion with customers.

“The consultation that Canada Post apparently did is singularly lacking in metrics, in numbers — it’s basically anecdotal,” he said.

“We need to make sure that Canadians are being properly served by an institution like Canada Post, and that will require a little more robust discussion and study than this government has actually taken on.”

Green party Leader Elizabeth May was also critical.

“Canada Post claims to be listening to Canadians, yet I’ve yet to hear anyone tell me that they no longer want letters delivered to their homes,” she said.

“This decision will disproportionately affect the elderly and Canadians living with disabilities, for whom home delivery of letters and parcels provides a critical link.”

Denis Lemelin, the national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), said the Canada Post announcement is a call to all Canadians to stand up and fight for their postal service. He called the changes “the end of an era.”

“We recognize that Canada Post needs to change, but this is not the way to change — to cut, cut and cut,” Lemelin told a news conference in Ottawa.

Lemelin added he doesn’t know of any other developed countries without door-to-door mail delivery in urban centres.

He also said the hike in the price of stamps will drive even more customers away from Canada Post. Stamps, now 63 cents, will be 85 cents as of March 31 when purchased in a booklet, or a dollar if bought individually.

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Raitt defends Canada Post move to phase out urban mail delivery; others cry foul

  1. ===Green party Leader Elizabeth May was also critical. “Canada Post claims to be listening to Canadians, yet I’ve yet to hear anyone tell me that they no longer want letters delivered to their homes,” she said.===

    Okay, Ms May, I’m telling you: I no longer want the post office spending the money it takes to have maybe one stamped envelope per week and the occasional parcel delivered to my door along with the flyers and fast-food coupons. I have no problem at all with swinging by a community mailbox every few days. In fact, service could be cut back to two or three days a week with essentially zero effect on my life except a potential tax saving.

    I’m sorry about the loss of jobs, and undoubtedly there are shut-ins who will have to rely on the kindness of others to fetch their mail, but this change makes perfect sense.

    • Shut-ins? Do you mean the poor people with health issues or elderly folks with no family/license/money to get around the places they live? Give your head a shake… Loss of home delivery is going to affect more people or ‘shut-ins’ as you called them more than you know.
      And here’s another thought for you: Us folks ain’t getting any younger either so… Any services that are now cut are services not rendered to us either in the future when WE are going to need them!!!

      • Sure, but we can give the service for those that actually need it, for a fraction of the cost that universal home mail delivery would cost.

        Plus, if you are talking about the future, think of the environmental costs of junk mail. If we can cut out home delivery of mail, direct marketing becomes a lot less attractive and we can save a massive amount of both emissions and wasteful deforestation by cutting junk mail.

        • I agree junk mail sucks. Period. As for replacing the door-to-door for a new service… Well Canada Post may be a Crown Corporation, but they are financially independent from the government, and own Purolator. Canada Post is not supported by our taxes. So where as they might be losing millions on the letter delivery market, how much are they making with their other company investments? At the end of the day, over-all, what is the Corporation really losing? A new service to replace the old is usually more costly. The old one is still self-sustaining. Why put more folks out of work, ignore your customers, and screw up the collective economy?

    • This is why I will never support the Green Party while Elizabeth May is in power. Cutting home delivery of junk mail would have the effect of reducing direct marketing and thus cut the amount of wasted paper. Wasteful use of paper contributes to both greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.

      But no, there are left wing union jobs at Canada Post at stake, and the environment can go ^%&# itself.

  2. Dear MacLean’s:
    If any one, and I mean any one, of your writers comes out in favor of this, my subscription is cancelled. Cuz guess what? It’s delivered to my home.
    I’m not gonna drag my disabled self to a community mailbox to retrieve the latest copy of your mag.
    See? That’s how this affects businesses. Including yours.

    • Macleans would like you to be a (paying) online client and you have moved down that road.

      You sent your letter to Macleans by email without bothering Canada Post. You didn’t wait to get it delivered to your door. You read it online. You just don’t pay for your online subscription yet.
      But you will; if Macleans is to survive. .

      Magazines are driven by advertisers who pay for access to potential buyers.
      The PRINT edition is fast becoming a collectors item.

      Industry Journals or similar will be the only magazines printed in the near future.

      • Agree completely. It’s surprising that any weekly journal has survived this long in print, in an age when news gets stale after a few hours.

        Although I do find that, for some reason, the New Yorker cartoons are funnier on paper.

        • The Western Producer – which is a farm and ranch journal will probably remain in print for a long time.

          • The Western Producer has an online version as well. As do GrainNews and other farm publications. I know, because I read them that way.

          • Question to those who regularly read the farm publications?

            Are most people reading the farm publications online?

            Is the print version still widely read?

            Are they still on every table, coffee shop and waiting room, coffee stains and all?

            I thought I knew the answer – perhaps I don’t.

    • There’s lots of disabled folks living in newer (if you consider 20 years+ newer) subdivisions that have to use community boxes – only 1/3 of Canadians get doorstep delivery now. Presumably, you either have to drag yourself out to get food and supplies, or have help for that sort of thing, and could easily incorporate mail collection into whatever strategies or routines you have in place.

    • Dear Elaine:
      How ironic that you’re posting this threat on the Maclean’s website. Why would you need to drag your disabled self to a community mailbox to retrieve the latest copy of their mag when all you need to do is drag your disabled self to your computer? Heck, you wouldn’t need to do any dragging at all if you had a tablet. How can you live with yourself, needlessly killing trees and burning hydrocarbons to ensure that you have a hard copy to toss in the recycling bin at the end of the week. And think of all the flyers and coupons you’ll be missing out on! How will you comparison shop for furnace cleaning services now?

  3. Take away their monopoly.

  4. It is our Government’s reponsibility to reign in the over spending and believe me if i knew Canada Post was about to spend approx or lose 1 Billion in the near future i would reduce the services also. I feel for people who need,want or depend on the mail being delivered to their door step however as someone on the news mentioned this week,how do the elderly get their groceries? Change is coming and we must all work towards a greater resolve or everything will go to hell in a hand basket soon enough!

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