Canada Post: We Won’t Deliver (To Urban Homes Anymore)

Update:

Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post Corporation, playing postal clerk in a Canada Post owned and operated Corporate Outlet. Since 2012, Canada Post has closed over 40 of these stations across Canada. There are currently 6,500 Canada Post stores across Canada, with only about 500 of those Corporate Post Offices, owned and operated by Canada Post.
Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post Corporation, posing for a photo opportunity in a Canada Post owned and operated Corporate Postal Outlet.  Since 2012, Canada Post has closed over 40 of these Canada Post owned and operated outlets across Canada. There are currently 6,500 Canada Post outlets across Canada, with only about 500 of those designated as Corporate Postal Outlets, owned and operated by Canada Post. The Conference Board of Canada (the “Board”), which Deepak Chopra is a board member of, recommended many changes to Canada Post in an April 2013, 52 page report titled “The Future of Postal Service in Canada”. In this report, the Board recommended Large Price Increases, Wage Restraint, Alternate Day Delivery, Elimination of Door-to-Door Delivery, Conversion of Corporate Postal Outlets and Reduction of Service Standards.  As a member of the Conference Board, Deepak Chopra immediately began implementing all of the Board’s recommendations. Canada Post conducted what they called public consultation in 46 communities for five (5) months, beginning a month after the Board released its 52 page report. The Canada Post public consultation ended in September 2013.  According to Canada Post, the public, t hrough the consultation process, came to the same conclusions as the Conference Board’s recommendations. As a result of the consultation Canada Post claims that the public said it would support Canada Post’s decision to open more postal outlet franchises, as opposed to corporate postal outlets, because they said that they found franchises were open for longer hours and on the weekend and that it was this convenience they were looking for.  Canada Post refuses to allow corporate postal outlets to open for longer hours during weekdays or to be open for the weekend, despite the fact that the public has stated that this is an important convenient feature that they demand and require, while conducting their business at a Canada Post outlet. Is this the reason that the public finds franchises more convenient?

Aside from the Railway, it has been our national postal service that has been the glue of the nation. In 1693 it was the first time there was paid mail delivery in Canada. The first Canadian post office was founded in Halifax in 1753, with Benjamin Franklin as the joint deputy postmaster general for the British colonies.  In 1867 Royal Mail Canada came into being under the federal government. On April 1, 1868 The Act for the Regulation of the Postal Service comes into effect, ensuring a consistent postal system in Canada.  In 1939, Regular airmail service across Canada and across the Atlantic is established. in 1953 the first group mailbox service was introduced outside Ottawa, Ontario. On October 16, 1981 the Post Office became a Crown Corporation and the Government of Canada ushered in the Canada Post Act. Some of the objective’s of the Canada Post Act is as follows:

  • the need to conduct its operations on a self-sustaining financial basis while providing a standard of service that will meet the needs of the people of Canada and that is similar with respect to communities of the same size;
  • the need to maintain a corporate identity program approved by the Governor in Council that reflects the role of the Corporation as an institution of the Government of Canada

The Government of Canada has always used the Post Office as a political football.  The latest quarterback, calling the plays, is none other than the Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. In the Conservative Party’s latest bi-annual convention in Calgary ending on November 2, 2013, that political party made it clear that they oppose all union’s, especially those who operate in the Federal public sector. They introduced some motions adopted by the party:

  • A motion called on the government to ensure public-sector benefits and pensions are “comparable to those available to similar employees in the private sector” and “made comparable” if they are not. As President of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement (with the assistance of omnibus Bill C-60 made law in June, 2013) referred to himself as “the chief negotiator with the public-sector unions” and indicated that he was in full agreement with this motion. He also indicated that there would be tough negotiations ahead.
  • A motion called on government to switch its civil servants to defined benefit pension plans, rather than defined contribution plans, to “bring public-sector pensions in line with Canadian norms.
  • Defined Contribution Pension Plan (DCPP)  – The income you receive at retirement under a DCPP is predetermined and is usually based on a formula involving your years of service and earnings. You receive annual statements clearly indicating the benefit on your retirement date. In these types of programs, your company manages the assets – you have no active involvement.
    Defined Benefit Pension Plan (DBPP) – The income you receive at retirement under a DBPP is not pre-determined. It’s based on the assets within your individual retirement plan account at the time you retire. In DBPPs, your company makes a contribution based on a formula, which may or may not require you to make some type of matching contribution. These contributions are usually based on a fixed percentage of your salary or on a specific dollar amount and are deposited into an account in your name. DBPPs are popular because they offer you choice and flexibility; however, there is high risk and upon retirement, it is the stock market health which generally determines the health and pay-out of your pension payments.
  • A motion called for “full, transparent annual financial reporting” for unions for which dues are tax-deductible. The same motion also called on Ottawa to bring in a law requiring federal unions to “explicitly detail” what money it uses for political donations or activism, and allow members to opt out of paying dues to support political activism.
  • A motion calls on the government to “prevent mandatory dues collected by unions from being diverted to fund political causes unrelated to workplace needs.”
  • A motion states a belief that mandatory union membership and mandatory union dues “limit the economic freedom of Canadians”
  • The last anti-union motion allows optional union membership, including optional membership in students’ unions.

Canada Post’s President and Chief Operating Officer and 22 vice-presidents have found an interesting way to roll out the Federal Conservative’s agenda, while trying to convince Canadians’ it’s really what “they” (Canadians) want.

Canada Post announced that it will eliminate door-to-door delivery in all Canadian urban cities over the next five (5) years. The federal conservative party are prepared to play postal code politics as they have no support in large urban cities (save and except Calgary) and therefore are not risking loss of political support at the ballot box by denying those living in an urban areas, door-to-door delivery.

This is the Pet Waste (Pet Poop Station) located by the community mail boxes that residents have to use to pick-up their mail. According to Canada Post’s own numbers 5,094,694 people get door-to-door delivery in Canada. Only 3,804, 574 people get mail through group mail boxes.
This is the Pet Waste (Pet Poop Station) located directly beside the community mail boxes that residents are forced to use to pick-up their mail. It must reak in the summer.  According to Canada Post’s own numbers 5,094,694 people get door-to-door delivery in Canada. However, only 3,804,574 people get mail through community  mail boxes. Canada Post continues to send a message out that two-thirds of Canadians receive their mail via community mail boxes, versus the one-third that receives door-to-door delivery.  The police in communities acorss Canada are aware of the safety and security issues as they are related to community mail boxes and there are thousands of security and safety issues.  Door-to-door delivery is much safer and is performed by a letter carrier who takes pride in their work and look after the customers on their routes.
Canada Post has announced that Canadians that live in urban cities will no longer receive door-to-door delivery and can instead, look forward to receiving their mail in a community mail box, like the one above that is located in a parking lot, beside a pet waste centre (where poop is collected and deposited).
Canada Post has announced that Canadians that live in urban cities will no longer receive door-to-door delivery (Canada would be the only country to completely eliminate door-to-door delivery) and can instead, look forward to receiving their mail in a community mail box, like the one above,  that is located in a parking lot, beside a pet waste centre (where pet poop is collected and deposited).

It is reasonable to believe that Conservative PM Stephen Harper, the head of the Federal government knew of the announcement that Canada Post was to make on December 11, 2013 and allowed it to proceed, knowing that Parliment was no longer in session, as the holiday break had already commenced. But the announcement was made nonetheless. The Minister of Finance, a good pal of Stephen Harper, knew of “Chop Chop” Chopra’s plans as early as December 9, 2013.

Canadians headed into the holiday break were caught off guard when Canada Post announced December 10, 2013 the end to door-to-door delivery in urban cities across Canada.  In addition to this announcement, Canada Post predicted a loss of 6000-8000 positions as a result of this move.
Canadians headed into the holiday break were caught off guard when Canada Post announced December 11, 2013 the end to door-to-door delivery in urban cities across Canada. In addition to this announcement, Canada Post predicted a loss of 6,000-8,000 positions as a result of this move. Great news for the Canadian public and postal workers headed into the holiday season.  Neither the federal opposition, the NDP or the Liberals could respond to this outrageous news, given that Parliment was no longer in session for the holiday period.

Canada Post released a five (5) point plan. They claim they came to these conclusions after consultation with the Canadian public. Which Canadian businesses and members of the public, within that consultation process, demanded that Canada Post stop door-to-door delivery in urban centres across Canada, from coast to coast to coast?

5,094,694 people get door-to-door delivery in Canada. Average cost per address is $269. 3,804, 574 get mail through group mail boxes.
A Canada Post rely box and a set of Canada Post Community Mail Boxes, which Canada Post is suggesting is a reasonable alternative to door-to-door delivery.  According to Canada Post’s own numbers 5,094,694 people get door-to-door delivery in Canada. Only 3,804,574 people get mail through group mail boxes. These means that a majority of Canadians receiving mail delivery would be adversely affected by this decision to deprive all Canadians door-to-door delivery.

The news of the end to door-to-door delivery was also accompanied by news that on March 31, 2013 there would be a huge hike in the price of domestic postage, from .63 cents to .85 cents (if purchased in a book of stamps) or if not, a dollar ($1.00) for a single stamp.

Canada Post announced that once fully implemented, the initiatives (elimination of door-to-door delivery, community mailboxes, adding franchises outlets, stamp increases, eliminating 8,000 jobs) will contribute an estimated $700 million to $900 million per year to the company’s bottom line, broken down as follows:

InitiativeForecasted financial benefits (per year upon full implementation)
Community mailboxes$400 million to $500 million
New approach to pricing Lettermail$160 million to $200 million
Franchise post offices$40 million to $50 million
Streamlining operations$100 million to $150 million
Canadians that have disabilities or mobility issues, will have a very tough time to travel to the community mailboxes to retrieve their mail.
Canadians that have disabilities or mobility issues, will have a very tough time to travel to community mailboxes to retrieve their mail. Canada Post lettercarriers have always provided more than just simple mail delivery to customers, in many instances they have scared off intruders that are attempting to break into a home while the owners/residents are away or have called emergency services on behalf of someone who is experiencing an unexpected health issue.  In some cases, the owners enjoy just simply speaking to the lettercarrier on their route.  Lettercarriers and Mail Service Couriers (Canada Post truck drivers) are extremely hardworking and do their jobs well, despite all of the pressures of the job.

It isn’t suprising that Canada Post’s President and CEO, Deepak Chopra has decided to pursue this path, given the direction from the Federal Conservative party, who came to power eight (8) years ago next month. What is surprising it that Canada, the second largest country in the world, would end mail delivery (door-to-door), when no other country would even dare entertain the idea.

Given the losses that Canada Post has reported, if it was being treated as a private sector company, Deepak Chopra (who was appointed President/CEO in Feb. 2011) would be denied his monetary compensation (salary of $497,000.00 a year with a 33% bonus = $164,000.00 + salary = $661,000.00 – during Canada Post’s record losses) and would promptly be terminated as the head of the Corporation.  Canada Post is an institution of the Government of Canada and the head of the government, PM Stephen Harper, wants to chip away at Canada Post and its’ Unions, little-by-little and Deepak Chopra is providing full co-operation and pursuing that path with vigor.

In 2011, while wanting to appear to be negotiating a collective agreement with the CUPW, Canada Post wasn’t doing well and looked for help from the Federal Government. In response, Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt informed the national media that she could not invoke back-to-work legislation unless the labour dispute was national in scope and couldn’t do that if one city at a time wasn’t receiving mail, it had to be a national work stoppage.  In an unprecendented move, to make a local issue a national issue and to provide a national work stoppage, Canada Post locked out all of the CUPW/STTP members across Canada for two (2) weeks.  Now Lisa Raitt had the legal justification to impose back-to-work legislation on postal workers and promptly did. Bill C-6 was constructed to punish postal workers, due to Canada Post’s decision to lock them out. The decision by Canada Post to refuse to allow Canada Post workers to actually work, cost Canada Post well over a 100 million dollars.  Unfortunately the media attributed the losses to a two week strike, as opposed to a Canada Post invented and carried out – lock out.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt is defending Canada Post's decision to phase out urban mail delivery over the next five years while hiking the price of stamps. (CP)
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt is defending Canada Post’s decision to phase out urban mail delivery over the next five years while hiking the price of stamps. Lisa Raitt, as Minister of Labour two (2) years ago, played ball with Canada Post and introduced punitive back-to-work legislation (Bill C-6) to force postal workers back to work, after Canada Post locked them out of work. (CP)

Money that has purportedly been lost by Canada Post, should invite some scrutiny from the public. Over 100 million was lost in 2011, due to the decision by Canada Post to lock out all CUPW/STTP employees coast to coast to coast.

In 1983, a pay equity lawsuit was filed against Canada Post on behalf of approximately 2,300 clerical employees working for Canada Post represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). As a result of hoping that the legitimate complaint would go away, Canada Post forced PSAC in 2011 to go to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of Canada. The Court took only 20 minutes of oral argument before it ruled on behalf of all of the employees, mainly women and ordered that Canada Post must finally pay, with interest.  The cost of the payment, was approximately $250 million (includes $100 million of interest).  Canada Post only starting paying these monies this year.

The loss that Canada Post posted, included this $250 million dollars stemming from a lawsuit initiated thirty (30) years ago.  Any other company would begin to budget that liability in their annual budget. Apparently, not Canada Post.  They waited until the total liability had to be paid and then listed the amount as a loss in their books.

Canada Post borrowed money against the Pension Fund to purchase a fleet of new postal trucks and equipment for their Postal Transformation (PT) idea. Now they are trying to convince the government and the public that they have no money and are broke.
Canada Post borrowed billions of dollars against the Pension Fund to purchase a fleet of new postal trucks and new equipment for their Postal Transformation (PT) idea. Why would Canada Post purchase new technology to process letters, when according to them, lettermail volumes have decreased by about 5% a year or a billion letters between 2006 – 2012?  Now they are trying to convince the government and the public that they have no money and are broke. Following the news of the rising stamp prices and the elimination of door-to-door delivery, the Harper federal government announced that it has given Canada Post a four-year break from making special payments (defer payments it is legally obligated to make) to its employee pension plan, which has a pension solvency deficit of $6.5 billion.  A solvency deficit means the post office could not pay out its pension commitments if every employee needed to be pensioned immediately.

Canada Post is reporting that traditional mail volumes have decreased a billion letters from 2006 to 2012.  This points to a loss in revenue and must be acknowledged in the new reality that Canada Post must face in its future.

Canada Post claims that as a result of other technologies, Canadians are not as dependent on traditional lettermail and as a result, lettermail volumes have decreased by a billion letters between 2006 and 2012.  Measures must be taken to replace the revenue from this loss.
Canada Post claims that as a result of other technologies, Canadians are not as dependent on traditional lettermail and as a result, lettermail volumes have decreased by a billion letters between 2006 and 2012 and measures must be taken to replace the revenue from this loss.

The Conference Board of Canada, in which Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra is a member of, is reporting that Volatile Collective Bargaining Expected in The Public Sector in 2014. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the Federal Conservative’s position and the fact that Treasury Board President Tony Clement is already rubbing his hands together, knowing that he has Bill C-60 to rely upon, if he does not receive the contractual/pension concessions that he demands.

As a result of the elimination of door-to-door delivery, which Canada Post predicts will lead to a loss of 8,000 jobs, lettercarriers across Canada will be affected. Rather then attending each address (each point of call) the work will be redistributed and a lettecarrier would simply drive up to a community mail box and sort it into each individual box.  Canada Post estimates that about 30,000 postal workers will retire in the next decade and that almost 15,000 will retire over the next five (5) years.  It is hoped that attrition will prevent any of the 8,000 lettercarrier losing their routes from losing their jobs.
As a result of the elimination of door-to-door delivery, which Canada Post predicts will lead to a loss of 8,000 jobs over the next five (5) years, lettercarriers all across Canada will be affected. Rather then attending each address (each point of call) the work will be redistributed and a lettecarrier would simply drive up to a community mail box and sort it into each individual box. Canada Post estimates that about 30,000 postal workers will retire in the next decade and that almost 15,000 will retire over the next five (5) years. It is hoped that attrition will prevent any of the 8,000 lettercarrier losing their routes from losing their jobs.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers who represents the workers affected by the decisions of Canada Post, only found out about this news when the media was made aware, on the morning of December 11, 2013.

The CUPW/STTP National President, Denis Lemelin wrote the following message:

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers will work with our community allies and fight back against Canada Post management’s unilateral decision to cut delivery services.

Replacing door-to-door delivery with Community Mail Boxes is a totally unnecessary measure that will penalize millions of people. The CUPW will work with community groups, pensioners, organizations of disabled persons, individuals, municipal politicians, the labour movement and everyone to preserve door-to-door delivery in their communities. In the 1980s a Conservative government led by Brian Mulroney tried to close and privatize all but eleven of the retail outlets of Canada Post. CUPW, together with the labour movement and our community and political allies, mobilized to fight back and we succeeded. In 1993, the first act of the newly-elected Liberal government was to introduce a moratorium on postal closures.

Time For Another Direction

Other postal administrations are addressing the problem of falling volumes of letters by introducing new revenue-generating services, such as postal banking, financial services and introduction of new parcel delivery options. Instead of innovations CPC has nothing to offer but more of the same failed policies of cutbacks and rate increases. CUPW has been vigorously campaigning to bring back and expand postal banking, with growing support from municipalities and groups across the country. Postal banks have proven to be a solid source of income for post offices. They can also provide a much needed financial resource for people in rural areas and low income sections of urban centres, which the banks have abandoned.

Our Struggle: Our Future

It is the hope of the Conservative government and Canada Post management that by cutting services and eliminating 6,000 – 8,000 jobs CPC will once again generate hundreds of millions in profits, which can then be distributed in the form of dividends to the government and bonuses for CPC managers. This is not our vision of the future. The post office belongs to the public and should have public service as its priority. The Canada Post Corporation Act clearly calls for CPC to be financially self-sufficient. It is the challenge for CUPW to demonstrate to the public that CPC can achieve this objective by expanding into new revenue-generating services instead of imposing unilateral cutbacks. We are ready and capable of meeting this challenge.

Local Input~  OTTAWA: 1926 -- A 1926 photo of a Canada Post letter carrier collecting mail in Ottawa. The caption on the rear reads: Letter box collection by foot collector, corner of Cumberland and Stewart Streets, Ottawa, Ont., 1926.  CREDIT: PUBLIC ARCHIVES CANADA/PA-59961
A Royal Mail foot collector, collecting the mail at the corner of Cumberland/Stewart Streets in Ottawa, Ontario in the year 1926. CREDIT: PUBLIC ARCHIVES CANADA/PA-59961
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