LETTER: Atamanenko protests Canada Post cuts
Like many Canadians, I was shocked to hear Canada Post’s announcement that it was planning to eliminate home delivery services, pursue the privatization of postal outlets, increase postal rates and lay off between 6,000 and 8,000 postal workers. The Canada Post Act doesn’t call upon Canada Post to make a profit at any cost. The three major mandates are service to all Canadians, reasonable costs and good labour relations. The changes to service proposed by Canada Post will in reality undermine all of these.
These proposed service cuts will have the biggest impact on seniors and persons with disabilities, who depend on home delivery to receive pension cheques or who cannot easily leave their homes. The suggestion by Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra that regular walks to community mailboxes might actually do them some good does not coincide with winter reality in communities such as Nelson and Trail, BC, with their steep hills and icy streets. Canada Post has an existing infrastructure and is often the only federal presence in small communities. It does not make any sense for the government to tear it apart and make it irrelevant.
The proposed hike in postage rates will also affect small businesses, many of whom compete with businesses in other countries that have more favourable postal rates. The increases will destroy the level playing fields that universal postal service was designed to create. Rather than attracting and retaining customers, raising prices and eliminating services will only serve to push customers away.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the so-called Canada Post consultations on the proposed service cuts took place online and by way of invitation-only discussions. The only communities in BC that were consulted were Nanaimo, Vancouver, Coquitlam and Kamloops. No small, northern or interior communities were included in the consultations. The result is that those most affected by the proposed changes were not given adequate opportunity to voice their opinions. What is also disturbing, to give only one example, is that of those consulted only 15.3 percent were in favour of community mailboxes replacing door-to-door delivery.
The Government of Canada has a perfect opportunity to create a win-win future for Canada Post that would maintain jobs and services and explore new means of generating revenue. Canada Post could begin by entering into meaningful discussions with members of CUPW and CPAA, who have expressed an interest in finding a workable compromise to the cuts in jobs and services. Other countries are addressing the problem of a decrease in letter volume by introducing new services such as postal banking, financial services and the introduction of new parcel delivery options. For example, a study conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows that postal administrators in other countries such as New Zealand, Switzerland and Italy are generating significant profits from postal banking.
As Denis Lemelin, National President of CUPW, states in his 11 December 2013 release, “The post office belongs to the public and should have public service as its priority . . . It is the challenge for CUPW to demonstrate to the public that CPC can achieve this objective by expanding into new revenue-generating services instead of imposing unilateral cutbacks. We are ready and capable of meeting this challenge.”
Minister, Canada Post and the Government of Canada are being presented with a golden opportunity to not only strengthen existing postal services, but also to introduce innovative change to assist Canada Post in meeting the challenges of the 21st century. I strongly urge you to direct Mr. Chopra toward these goals.
Alex Atamanenko, MP
BC Southern Interior