For Postal Service in Canada, The End of an Era
By Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor
With the ever-growing, universal accessibility to electronic communication, for many the phasing out of Canada Post’s home delivery was definitely on the horizon. For some, perhaps it was further away, a slow procedure. After all, for many urbanites, having the mailperson drop by each morning has been a tradition since the 1880s. However, some did not see it coming at all. In fact, many critics of Canada Post’s plan argue that this was the worst possible route to take. This argument stems from four main factors: Canada Post has been a profiting entity for 18 of the last 19 years, there will be 6,000-8,000 jobs permanently gone, certain segments of the population who rely on Canada Post’s home delivery could be further isolated and/or marginalized and, lastly, some see economic solutions based on postal services in other countries.
The only year Canada Post did not profit in the past 19 years was in 2011, in which there was a long strike. So, as journalist Ethan Cox points out, the only year where Canada Post was in the red was more due to politics, and not a lack of usage from the Canadian population. Labour groups, including the CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Works), of course, have also lamented the job loss. Canada Post management has argued that many of the jobs that will be phased out would come through retirements. However, the number of employment opportunities will surely be fewer, as there will be less work to be done. It brings up the question of whether a crown-corporation which is profiting should be cutting jobs. When it comes to taxpayer-subsidized programs which are run like businesses, it also creates the question of whether the consumer should be treated as a customer or a shareowner. Theoretically, house delivery is most needed by people who have physical difficulties walking, whether due to age or disability of some kind, especially in the parts of Canada with long, harsh winters. Deepak Chopra, the CEO of Canada Post, argued that senior citizens would welcome the extra exercise, which was criticized harshly. In some other countries, where the question of whether or not the time of the public postal service has reached its end, they expanded their services using the infrastructure that was already in place, instead of phasing it out. For example, Germany has postal banks, which provide citizens easy banking access, as well as low costs. In Canada’s rural communities, where there are already post offices, this has been seen as one useful alternative to shrinking services provided by Canada Post.
Prince George is perhaps the ideal town in which to analyze the debate on whether or not house delivery is essential postal service. With its isolated, yet somewhat large population and winter weather, the people of Prince George have a fairly good excuse to demand home delivery. For some, the community mailboxes may not be a big ordeal; it might enhance their relationship with their neighbours as they bump into the same people over and over again. On the other hand, for some sections of the population, communication through postal services might become impossible on an icy day. In any case, a tradition is shedding its skin, and a new era of communication is upon us.