The Crown corporation unveiled a five-point plan it says will help it compete even as the volume of mail continues to decline.
“It reflects what the company heard from Canadians during a recent cross-country discussion with residential and business customers,” Canada Post says in its release. “These discussions confirmed many of the new patterns the company has seen unfolding at its post offices, in its processing plants and in the makeup of the mail.”
While the number of letters it deals with is dropping, there is a surge in parcel traffic, which the company says requires a fundamental change in the way it handles the mail. And the letters still being sent are items that can't be sent electronically, such as driver's licences and other official documents.
Canada Post plans to end home delivery over the next five years to the five million homes that still receive it, switching them to the community mailboxes that two-thirds of Canadians are already using. The switch will lead to substantial savings, the company said Wednesday.
“Delivering to a community mailbox is much less expensive than delivering to the door,” the company said, in making the announcement. “The first neighbourhoods to be converted will be announced in the near term once plans for this initial stage are finalized.
“Conversions on this scale are a multi-step process. Canada Post is committed to keeping communities informed at every stage, and to delivering a positive customer experience. Canada Post has just concluded a comprehensive discussion with Canadians about the postal services they need now and in the future.”
Other elements of the five-point plan:
Increasing rates for mail, with tiered pricing. Regular stamps will cost 85 cents.
A move away from traditional post offices in favour of retail outlets in stores across Canada, and streamlining operations by making more use of technology, consolidating sorting operations, and providing new vehicles to letter carriers so they can handle both letters and parcels.
Reducing current labour costs the company says are “not sustainable” through attrition and collective bargaining and taking “necessary steps to permanently address the sustainability of its pension plan.”
Dave Merrick, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 612, in Sudbury, didn't respond to messages seeking comment before Northern Life's deadline Wednesday.
But Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett, whose motion calling for a moratorium on post office closures received unanimous support Tuesday from city council, wrote in a letter that the corporation's announcement is a reflection of “small-minded thinking.
Kett said the corporation has removed 25 red mailboxes in Sudbury over the last little while, something residents in his ward have noticed and called him about.
“The Post Office Charter, which details the expectations of the federal government and states the post office's related activities, is up for review,” Kett writes.
“We need to let the federal government know that the charter has to be improved, not used to cut services. And the process needs to be more open and transparent. Why not have consultations across Canada so we can have our say about our national post office?”
He suggests Canada adopt the model used in Europe, where post offices are used for banking services.
“Why can’t you go to your local post office to mail a letter and do a withdrawal from your account? Other counties do it,” Kett writes. “This sort of idea can only be publicized and popularized by having an open national debate on the future of our post office, not hidden away in a committee room in Ottawa.
“We need to make this process more democratic and get Canada Post planning to better serve Canadians. Please write your local member of parliament to push more these measures.”
The Crown corporation has around 60,000 employees across Canada, but half are due to retire in the next 10 years, and most will not be replaced. It currently operates abut 6,400 post offices across the nation.
A copy of Canada Post's five-point plan can be found at www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/assets/pdf/aboutus/5_en.pdf