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Cuts at Canada Post - What do they mean?

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Cuts at Canada Post - What do they mean?

 

Six to eight thousand people will be out of work, if Canada Post has its way.

Thousands of others will be pressured into retirement – many before they are financially ready to leave paid work.

All this for a leaner, more profitable Canada Post – if you believe what the corporation is saying. So what is wrong with this view?

First, for backup, Canada Post is justifying its decision in part on the Conference Board of Canada’s spring publication The Future of Postal Service in Canada.  It claims that already two-thirds of Canadians do not have door-to-door mail delivery. 

This suggest that two-thirds of Canadians live in rural areas, and have no door-to-door delivery, outside of the major cities.  Hang on—that can’t be true. Statistics Canada say that in 2011, 81% of Canadians lived in urban and 19% lived in rural areas[1]. What the Conference Board is really saying is that most apartment or tower dwellers in major Canadian cities receive their mail through post boxes in their lobbies – not through slots in their doors.  Agreed. In cities such as Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, many people live in high-rises or townhouses and receive their mail at a central point. But why didn’t the Conference Board just say that?

Second, Canada Post tells us it ‘costs’ $269 a year to deliver mail to each household in Canada. But $269 boils down to about $1.07 a day. That sounds like a good deal because Canada Post is a service which delivers paycheques, assistance cheques, pension money, bank statements, all sorts of government cheques, and voting registration cards —on time.  Mail is safe, secure and usually gets to the people to whom it’s addressed.

Third, does Canada need at least 8,000 more unemployed? According to its 2012 Annual Report,  Canada Post employs 68,000 people and has been named one of the Top 100 Employers in Canada for four years running.  Pretax profits in 2012 were $127 million.  One can assume that employees are needed to sort, truck and deliver the mail.  Thanks to the efforts of their union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), these jobs pay a decent wage of about $47,000 a year.

Before readers insist posties are overpaid, think about carrying 30 plus pounds of mail through all the weather Canada has to offer—five days a week.  Think of biting dogs, snow and ice.  

Finally, what is wrong with having a service like Canada Post? Services are what we as a civilized society give to one another to make life more livable.  For example, an older man, who lives in a homeless shelter near me, takes his cat for a daily walk on a leash in my local park. He’s done it for years.  We all pay for parks but we don’t all use them. City parks provide an invaluable service for the man and his cat and those without private back yards.  What if we sold parks to developers who built office or residential buildings on the land. The city could collect tax money from the property taxes, but we residents wouldn’t have the service or the amenity of the park.  By the same token, some of us need the service of Canada Post more than others – but it is a vital service nonetheless.

 

Judy Haiven is an Associate Professor in the Management Department of the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax.  She is also the chair of the Nova Scotia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.



 

 


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