Service cuts, price increase no way to fix problems, Thibeault says
Thibeault led a group of volunteers on a canvas in areas affected by Canada Post's decision to end home delivery.
In December, Canada post unveiled a five-point plan it said would help it compete even as the volume of mail continues to decline. The Crown corporation said it would 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. It also plans to raise the price of a postage stamp from 63 cents to $1, close post offices in favour of postal outlets in stores, and cut thousands of jobs through attrition.
The reason driving the changes is the steady decline in mail volumes, as people use technology in place of the post office, the corporation said. While Thibeault said he understands the market has changed, he questions the approach.
“It's frustrating, because the Conservatives are saying that cutting services and increasing prices is the only way to fix the business,” he said. “Well, that's not the way to fix a business. You talk to the workers, you talk to the people involved, and you find the solutions.
“So today, we're actually going to talk to the people specifically in areas where the home delivery service is going to be eliminated ... We're not going to let this issue die.”
It's not just people who rely on home delivery that will be affected, Thibeault said. Small businesses that must mail their bill payments will face significantly higher mailing costs.
“Most of their receivables come by mail, and they send out their payments through the mail,” he said. “If that cost is going up by 55 per cent, that's significant for small business owners. And who ends up paying for that? All of us.”
He also says Canada Post hasn't looked at what other countries are doing to keep their post offices operating. In Switzerland, for example, the post office offers banking services.
“There are other ways to make postal services viable,” Thibeault said. “Canada Post is also making a fair profit on their parcel delivery – so they're not telling the whole truth that should be told in this.
“If we can find ways to make it more viable, to make more money, then we can start talking about having more home delivery services, rather than putting these community mailboxes in.”
With a federal election due in 2015, he said it's important to keep the issue alive and in the public's mind until then.
“Of course we need to ensure that everything is streamlined and profitable, I understand that whole piece. But just to cut services and increase costs? That's not the way to fix a business, but that's what the Conservatives are doing.
“We want to be sure this is an election issue come 2015.”