Federal parties go postal

Our panelists debate the government’s decision to cut services and jobs from a Crown corporation

Some Kingston residents have rallied to keep Canada Post’s home delivery service.
Some Kingston residents have rallied to keep Canada Post’s home delivery service.
Photo: 

NDP

Jack O’Donnell, ArtSci ’14

The recent announcement that Canada Post will be ending its door-to-door delivery service in urban areas has, to say the least, come as a surprise to many Canadians.

To see a Crown corporation as old as the country itself have the axe taken to it is somewhat jarring, not unlike when we learned the CBC would no longer be able to afford its NHL television contracts.

Both of these unfortunate circumstances have arisen in the wake of irresponsible Conservative austerity. In the case of Canada Post, a downsized budget has come at the cost of quality jobs, affordable service and the stature of a national icon.

Canada will be the first country in the G7 to eliminate door-to-door delivery. This raises significant concerns about the accessibility of postal service for seniors, small businesses and the disabled. In addition, police and local officials have expressed concerns about the dependency on community mailboxes, saying that they can cause problems, ranging from garbage issues to identity theft.

Then there are the 6,000-8,000 jobs which will be phased out as the result of this decision. The New Democrats have taken a firm stance against the elimination of this valuable service, and on Tuesday, MP Olivia Chow submitted a motion articulating this view.

The Harper regime knows that cutting services, driving away customers and raising prices is no way to save a failing business. In many ways, this seems like a concerted effort to gradually end the national mail service as a whole.

It’s 2014, and there’s no doubt that the terrestrial post does not hold the same social significance it once did. However, before we are willing to do away with this old icon, the state needs to be prepared to have a discussion about what kind of services may be necessary to fill its place in the information age.

Jack is the Co-President of the Queen’s New Democratic Party.

Liberal

Gaby Schachter, ArtSci ’15

As a way of mitigating further financial hardship, the federal government has decided to phase out Canada Post’s door-to-door delivery services in urban areas, as well as a number of other job services.

For those of us that live in suburbia and already get our mail from a communal box, this means little change, but for those who live in urban and rural areas, this means getting your mail from a post office or alternate location.

In the midst of this inconvenience for consumers, 6,000-8,000 jobs will be lost through the removal of services like manual mail sorting, route restrictions and parcel delivery to communal boxes. Though many of these jobs will be phased out through retirement and voluntary leave, thankfully, what concerns me the most is the lack of consultation on the part of Canada Post, both in the professional and public sphere prior to this decision.

My concerns echo those of many on Parliament Hill. I feel there’s a fine line to balance between fiscal responsibility and loss of jobs and services. My main concern is that the public should have been notified, or at least consulted, before this action was taken.

To me, the loss of door-to-door service seems a small change in the short run, but the lasting effects on the job force and service domain are much higher. Even so, I feel that employees are more hard-pressed to adjust than the consumer.

Further to this point, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has voiced concerns regarding the depth of study taken prior to the decision to cut services. Aside from lack of consultation on both ends, the hastiness of this decision would lead the average onlooker to believe that little calculation was made to predict the effects of the job losses as well as the changes to the nature of manual mail service.

Though I can’t speak to what processes led to this decision, and though I agree fiscal responsibility is important, I believe that conversation, fact-based policy decisions and transparency are paramount. From what I can see by the outcome of this decision, little of that was attempted.

Gaby is the President of the Queen’s University Liberal Association.

Conservative

Corey Schruder, ArtSci ’16

In today’s digital age, Canadians are choosing to communicate in ways other than sending letters. In light of this shift, Canada Post can’t continue to use the same business model from the pre-digital era.

According to Canada Post, mail volumes have dropped almost 25 per cent since 2008 and are continuing to fall. This will lead to a steep decline in revenue for Canada Post, which is of great concern to Canadian taxpayers.

Since 1981, Canada Post has held a mandate to operate on a self-sustaining basis. Our government firmly believes that taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for Canada Post’s losses. It supports Canada Post’s five-point action plan to help ensure that it stays on solid financial footing and better reflects Canadians’ choices. As an arms-length Crown corporation, Canada Post is responsible for its operations, including business and financial decisions. Some of these actions involve staff reductions through attrition, the expansion of community mailboxes and increasing the price of stamps. Canada Post will roll out these changes as thoughtfully and smoothly as possible over a five-year period. These changes are in line with the global transformation of the postal sector in general.

More than two-thirds of Canadian households already receive their mail through community mailboxes. In its five-point plan, Canada Post has indicated it will make accommodations for seniors and individuals with disabilities. It already does this for those who currently receive mail through this method.

The NDP advocates for the interests of union bosses from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, rather than the interests of taxpayers, and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals continue to add nothing to the debate. Our government, on the other hand, has tackled reality head-on to protect Canadian taxpayers.

Corey is the Senior Director of Issues Management for the Queen’s University Conservative Association.

Tags: 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.