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Canada to be first G20 country to abolish door-to-door postal service

Published time: April 14, 2014 15:29
A demonstrator dressed as a mailed envelope jokes around with a mailbox during a protest against planned cuts to Canada Post in Ottawa January 26, 2014. (Reuters / Chris Wattie)

A demonstrator dressed as a mailed envelope jokes around with a mailbox during a protest against planned cuts to Canada Post in Ottawa January 26, 2014. (Reuters / Chris Wattie)

Canadians are angry with their government’s plan to end door-to-door postal services, which would make it the first such G20 country, as delivery process have gone up dramatically.

The plan Canada Post had is set to take effect within five years and is necessitated, like in the United States, by dwindling profits caused by everyone switching to things like email, Reuters reports. But this is necessary, according to the service, who says they’ll start losing cash by mid-2014 if a major overhaul isn’t performed.

Spokesman for the service, Jon Hamilton, told Reuters how mail deliveries had gone down by a whole billion in 2012 compared to 2006, so “we had to make changes.”

The changes will entail the loss of 8,000 jobs, along with other things. The government-owned company spends much more than its private sector competitors.

“[The plan] really provides Canada Post with a future based on serving needs that Canadians have rather than trying to put something together that doesn’t work,” Hamilton said.

The company has been hemorrhaging money in recent years, reporting a whopping loss of C$109 million ( US$103 million) before tax – a 7.3 percent drop from the previous year. To make matters worse, its pension plan is in deficit by C$6.5 million.

Currently, about a third of Canada’s approximately 5.1 million homes get mail delivered to their door, and they are not too happy about the government proposing a system of community mail boxes under its five-point plan announced Wednesday.

Once the reforms take effect, not only will the people in small, remote towns feel the effect, but also those inhabiting large cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Now, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, are blasting the idea as a brash decision that may cripple the postal service, and have called on fellow workers to oppose the measure. Other groups have joined such calls too, like the official opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), who fear the move could affect pensioners, whose everyday activities are greatly affected by winter months.

People march during a protest against planned cuts to Canada Post in Ottawa January 26, 2014. (Reuters / Chris Wattie)

The Guardian visited a remote mining community of 7,000 people, surrounded by mountains, called Labrador City, in east Canada – a good example of just how much people’s comfort would be affected by Canada Post’s decision.

Temperatures there can drop below -30C easily, while meters of snow in the winter make it really hard to get about freely.

The mayor of the city, Karen Oldford, said that battling through the impassable snow would be really difficult for some groups of people. She added that using the excuse of mail to affect home deliveries is preposterous, because “there is still no broadband access in our communities.”

Everyone from the elderly to the disabled is voicing concerns – even a petition on Change.org appeared, gathering 140,000 signatures. The mother of a child with cerebral palsy proposed if Canada Post execs could spend a week in a wheelchair and “see how they like it… I think their perspective would completely change,” Susan Dixon said.

The Postal union chief joined the chorus, saying that “to cut, cut, and cut” isn’t the way to go, afraid that the plan would be the end of a whole era.

Although many agree with Canada Post’s upcoming five-point-plan, it is known that the company spends more than twice the money annually delivering correspondence to the door than it does to a community box – C$283 compared to C$108.

However, although email’s effect on profits is certainly noticeable, the company also sees mail orders booming, so believes that it’s more about adjusting to current trends. And community boxes, among other things, are easier to deal with when large parcels are delivered.

Speaking to the Guardian, Canada Post’s director, Deepak Chopra, was of the opinion that the logistical and climatic concerns for some groups of people aren’t as dire as it seems. "Seniors are telling me that 'I want to be healthy, I want to be active in my life,'" he said.

Older Canadians, however, continue to disagree.

The company believes that once the changes have been implemented, the postal service will feel the effects of financial revival by 2019.