Canada's postal service Canada Post has announced millions of Canadians will no longer have mail delivered to their homes as part of a new cost-cutting plan.
Photo Credit: Canada Post

Canada Post’s sales pitch tailored to justify cuts

When Canada’s postal service Canada Post announced Wednesday (December 11) it would stop delivering mail to homes in urban areas it emphasized two-thirds of Canadians already don’t get door-to-door service, and the use of “community mailboxes” in urban areas would be phased in over the next five years to help defray costs at the crown corporation.

In its press release Wednesday, Canada Post announced “Over the next five years, the one third of Canadian households that receive their mail at their door will be converted to community mailbox delivery.”

A deeper analysis of Canada Post statistics found in its Annual Report of 2012 suggests this is not the only way to interpret how mail is delivered in Canada:

Only one third of Canadians get door-to-door service?
On page 21 of the 2012 Annual Report, a Canada Post chart confirms what Canada Post has said, only one third (33%) of Canadians have mail delivered “door-to-door” – that is, the mail carrier delivers it to their mailbox at their home, or puts it through the mail slot in their home’s door.

The next delivery method in the chart: “Centralized point (e.g., apt. lobby lockbox)” represents 25 per cent of mail deliveries in Canada. What’s interesting here, is that Canada Post does not consider delivering a person’s mail to the lobby of the apartment building they live in as “door-to-door” service.

If the two are added together, 58 per cent of Canadians effectively get door-to-door service.

Another 5 per cent of people living in rural areas receive mail in their mailbox at the end of their lane.

Another 12 per cent of businesses and people get their mail at post office boxes.

At the moment, those who get mail at “community mailboxes” represent only 25 per cent of the total.

CanadaPostServices2012b

Financial losses….in one year
In its press release announcing the cuts, Canada Post says: “With the increasing use of digital communication and the historic decline of Lettermail volumes, Canada Post has begun to post significant financial losses.”

But an analysis of the crown corporation’s profits show that since 1995, the only year it did not make a profit was 2011, the year the corporation locked out its employees in a labour dispute.

The losses it “has begun to post” are only in the second and third quarters of this year.

Interestingly, two days before the announcement of service cuts, a Canada Post press release highlighted delivery milestones this year;

Last year, for the first time in its history, Canada Post delivered a million parcels in a single day on two occasions – December 10 and December 17. This year, the million-parcel milestone has already been reached three times – on November 12, November 25 and on Cyber Monday, December 2. Today, Canada Post will again reach that parcel-delivery milestone as it delivers more than a million parcels across the country; additional million-parcel days are expected during the holiday season.

Response to modern life – 24 hour access
In its press release, Canada Post underlines that “Community mailboxes have advantages for busy Canadians as they offer individually locked mail and small packet compartments as well as locked compartments for securely receiving parcels” and can be accessed 24 hours a day.

It’s true that picking up packages or registered letters is limited to hours of a specific post office, but now, every day, millions of Canadians will have to go to their community mailbox to check to see if they have mail, rather than looking into their mailbox beside the door of their home.

Canada first G7 country to cut all urban home mail delivery
A Globe and Mail article comparing the mail services in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan found Canada is the only one to decide to cut urban home delivery. And apart from Italy, all other countries deliver mail six days a week. It’s five days a week in Canada.

More information:
Canada Post press release – Canada Post unveils Five-point Action Plan – here
Canada Post – 2012 Annual Report (pdf) – here
Canada Post press release – Canada Post reaching delivery milestones early – here
Canada Post – annual reports – here
Globe and Mail – Canada first G7 country to cut all urban home mail delivery – here
RCI – Canada Post to end urban home delivery of mail (audio report) – here

Update December 16, 2013:
Canadian Union of Postal Workers releases press statement “Canada Post and Conference Board Myths Debunked” addressing issues such as the supposed financial losses and clarifying mail delivery in Canada. See the details here.
Earlier in the day RCI interviewed the president of the postal workers’ union, you’ll find the audio here

Update December 18, 2013:
RCI – Canada Post CEO sticks to talking points testifying at Commons committee (audio) – here

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7 comments on “Canada Post’s sales pitch tailored to justify cuts
  1. susan hogben says:

    this is wrong on so many levels……..do we vote on this?

  2. Gil hewko says:

    Like all gov press the panic button appoint and see what happens.it didn’t work well let’s change that minster portfolio. He or she’s not to popular.when a cabinet minster is appointed to a specific portfolio are they capable to function that project .like any job it usually takes awhile do get your feet wet,it’s a learning process,no pain no gain.for heavens sake keep them there to familiar with their job.its time some political leader has a little respect for themselves and does it the honest. Way. Watching tv the other day I heard a opposition say —-as you no it is our job to defeat the gov.what does that tell you—yes you can bet someone’s back will be patted on the postal scam.i heard edmonton s new mayor before being elected rely to media reporter on a question concerning one of his completion for mayor ,kind of a smut question ,his reply was I don t have time for that nonsense that’s not my way.— I first reaction was wow who is this guy. However what mess the usa now have in politics.disater.

  3. Gil hewko says:

    Will it work?

  4. Darren Pecusik says:

    Canada post likes to blame declining letter mail volumes for their supposed financial difficulties however letter mail is but a small portion of items Canada Post delivers to the door. There are many other types of mail including publications mail, business reply mail, express post, priority courier, and admail. Admail alone accounts for another 10 billion pieces. Rather than the drastic price increases for lettermail alone wouldn’t it have made more sense to raise the price of all products delivered. As a long term employee of Canada Post I don’t believe these huge price increases were necessary. What I see is a horribly mismanaged company where service no longer means anything. Managers have become paper pushers and employees for the most part work unsupervised. Postal standards are routinely ignored. Mail routes go undelivered. Box holders’ mail sits for days at a time. If you want the real story talk to the employees.

  5. Bobby Langton says:

    Very accurate and well written. Some people know the truth, but many are easily fooled.

  6. Lisa says:

    In Glace Bay, NS, Canada Post closed their Post Office on Saturdays a few years ago. Which I believe is illegal since there’s no where to pick up mail. We cannot make it to the Post Office in time, through the week after work.
    We don’t need or want community mailboxes – that will only hold one small and one medium parcel for 24+ houses – just open the Post Office on Saturday mornings, like everywhere else.

  7. Dave Jenkins says:

    The announcement of Canada Post’s “Five-point Action Plan” has been accompanied by the release of an avalanche of statistics to convince people that Canada Post is failing and that a public postal service is outdated. The monopoly media have taken the opportunity to present exaggerated reports calling for the elimination of universal postal service and full deregulation of postal services.

    Deliberately exaggerated claims are being made to convince people that the sky is falling on Canada Post and the corporation has no choice but to cut postal services, raise postage prices and attack the wages and benefits of postal workers. The media report doom and gloom over a drop in first class mail volumes. The Conference Board of Canada projects that by 2020 the corporation will be facing an operating loss of $1 billion per year. The pension plan is said to be facing a $5.9 billion solvency deficiency and because of this must be “restructured.” All of this desperate talk is to paralyse people’s thinking as to a pro-social new direction for the public post office to serve the people and nation-building.

    A review of the corporation’s financial reports of the last several years shows that these statistics and projections are not just exaggerations but in many cases outright lies.

    But putting the statistics aside, neither the corporation nor the Harper government has been able to explain why more than $2-billion have been invested in the past few years to modernize mail processing and delivery if the post office is failing. Do they think that Canadians are so gullible that they will believe that billions of dollars would be invested in a sector of the economy that is supposed to be “dying” and “a thing of the past”?

    The facts show the opposite is the case. The profits of UPS, FedEx, Pitney Bowes and other monopoly corporations in the communications sector have been steadily rising. The demand for the privatization and deregulation of Canada Post is not because it is failing but on the contrary, the elimination of the public post office is the potential source of super profits for these monopolies.

    It is more than dishonest for the corporation to claim that the “Action Plan” and the drastic cuts are due to loss of mail volumes and the financial crisis facing Canada Post. This is the continuation of “Postal Transformation,” which was put in place by Moya Greene who was appointed President and CEO of Canada Post in 2005. Before any noise began about lower mail volumes and during a period the corporation was making hundreds of millions of dollars of profit every year, Moya Greene explained her plan to modernize the Post Office. She pointed out that the goal of the corporation was to “modernize and revitalize Canada Post” to reorient it to serve big business. She stressed that the approximately $2-billion investment was being made to take advantage of the fact that one-third of the workforce would be retiring in the coming years. She said, “This is an opportunity to synchronize modernization plans with the pace of retirements.”

    Since then we have seen the disastrous effects of new sortation machines and restructured letter carrier routes. Thousands of jobs have already been eliminated including practically all mail service courier positions (truck drivers) where “Postal Transformation” has been implemented. The ongoing pressure on workers has taken a heavy toll in injuries, and in the Montreal area alone, several suicides of letter carriers have been reported due to the unbearable working conditions.

    Along with “Postal Transformation,” the corporation, hand-in-hand with the Harper government, has been implementing privatization and deregulation. Deepak Chopra, previously President of Pitney Bowes Canada and Latin America, was appointed by Stephen Harper to head Canada Post in 2011. Since that time, the destruction of the public post office has been accelerating. More than 60 major Retail Post Offices have been closed in large urban centres across the country and replaced by hundreds of postal franchises located in major drug store chains and convenience stores.

    With Bill C-9, a federal budget bill in 2010, the Harper government succeeded in taking international letters out of the exclusive purview of Canada Post. With this bill, the government legalized the existing illegal operations of businesses known as “remailers” that were handling letters bound for international destinations. By sneaking deregulation into a budget bill to avoid debate, Harper enabled large private mailers to take millions of dollars of revenue from Canada Post each year.

    Stephen Harper and Deepak Chopra are not modernizing the post office; they are dismantling it for the benefit of the monopoly corporations they represent. The investment of billions of dollars and the attacks on the wages, working conditions and benefits of postal workers are integral parts of the Harper government’s plans to sell off the public assets of the Post Office at a low price with minimum risk for the buyer. Canada Post’s “Five-point action Plan” is another step on the road towards the destruction of the public Post Office and Canada’s national economy.

    The struggle of postal workers for sustainable working conditions and wages benefits commensurate with the work they perform is an important block to the wrecking plans of the Harper government. The more than 50,000 postal workers and over 20,000 retirees must unite with other workers across the country to demand the recognition of their rights and a Canadian standard of living that reflects the highly developed productive economy. Postal and other workers and their allies amongst a broad section of Canadians are determined not to allow private interests to appropriate the assets of the public post office that workers have built over many years through their hard work. It is time the Harper Government ends it’s attack on Unions and the middle class of this country.