Ken Georgetti was responding to the sudden announcement by Canada Post on December 11 that it will stop delivering mail to five million homes even as it raises the cost of postage stamps by 35%. Canada Post also says it will privatize more postal stations and cut between 6,000 and 8,000 jobs.
“Conservative politicians keep telling us that our economy is the envy of other G7 countries,” says Georgetti, “but it seems we are no longer capable of delivering the mail. Most other G7 countries continue to make home deliveries five or six days a week.”
Georgetti says Canada Post’s decision to replace home delivery with group mail boxes will cause hardship to older Canadians and those who are in poor health or otherwise handicapped.
Georgetti says, “One might be forgiven for suspecting that the Conservative government used the Canada Post announcement to neatly distract attention away from growing retirement insecurity and wide-spread support for an enlarged Canada Pension Plan (CPP).”
He adds, “In 2010, Jim Flaherty and the provincial finance ministers committed to a modest improvement to the CPP as part of a multi-pronged approach to pension reform in Canada. Since then, the federal Conservatives have flip-flopped on the issue, offering every justification imaginable for refusing to act. Now, just ahead of the December finance ministers’ meeting, we get the dramatic Canada Post announcement.”
Georgetti is also critical of the process that Canada Post used to arrive at these decisions. “Canada Post held public consultations in 2013 about the future of the service. They manipulated the process and are now implying that Canadians told them to reduce their services. That’s not true.”
The consultations in Canadian communities were by invitation only and they began shortly after the Conference Board of Canada released a report promoting cost saving options such as reducing services, raising postage rates and either freezing or slashing wages. The Conference Board report was paid for by Canada Post and was used as a basis for the public consultations.
The corporation also used its website to ask Canadians what kind of a future they envisioned for postal services. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) analyzed all of the comments posted to the website. Georgetti says, “Over half of the people who posted comments wanted either the status quo or improved services, and fewer than two in 10 called for cuts in services. What they got from Canada Post was a lump of coal.”
Georgetti also criticized the manner and timing of Canada Post’s surprise announcement. “They waited until the morning after the House of Commons had risen for its holiday break so that the government would not have to answer embarrassing questions, and they gave their unions no advance notice. That tells us a lot about how Canada Post and its political masters do things.”
Georgetti asks why Canada Post did not seriously consider the kind of innovations undertaken by the postal services in other countries. “A significant portion of postal income in a variety of countries, including Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland and New Zealand, arises from their providing banking and other financial services. CUPW has invested in an independent study of such alternatives but Canada Post appears oblivious to all of this.”
Georgetti adds, “When Canada Post locked out its workers in 2011, the Conservative government said the services they provided were so important that they had to be legislated back to work. Now Canada Post says those same workers are completely dispensable. We don’t believe it – neither do Canadians.”