In December 2013, Canada Post announced a contentious plan to eliminate door-to-door delivery service while simultaneously imposing a 35% hike in the cost of stamps, and the elimination of 8,000 jobs. The Harper Government and Canada Post executives have framed this gutting as unfortunate yet unavoidable, as age demographics and technologies change, the postal service must adapt or become obsolete. There is sufficient evidence to suggest this “system modernization” is nothing more than a poorly disguised attempt to erode consumer faith in Canada Post and create a political environment more amenable to system privatization.
As Pam Johnson of The Socialist Worker notes: “Canada Post is self-sustaining and in sixteen out of the last seventeen years it has made millions in profits”. Last month the Globe and Mail reported that CP’s mail division announced a $67-million profit in the second quarter on revenue of $2-billion.” It appears the Harper Administration is manufacturing a crisis to serve their narrow ideological ends. Johnson cites the UK’s Royal Mail as a precedent. “Although the Royal Mail was valued at 10 billion pounds it was sold at the fire sale price of 3.3 billion pounds. The share price went up 67 per cent in the two weeks following the sale.”
rabble.ca‘s Mike Palecek reported in July that “An access to information request by Blacklock’s Reporter reveals that the Prime Minister’s Office conducted a secret study into privatization only months before Canada Post announced their five-point plan to cut services, jobs and increase prices. In September of 2013, the Prime Minister received a study that he ordered about privatization of postal services. In October of 2013, all work on the postal banking project suddenly and mysteriously ceased. On December 11, 2013, the day after parliament adjourned for the holidays, Canada Post management announced a plan to massively cut services and jobs.”
It’s not an understatement to say this ham-handed communications effort has been ludicrous, almost farcical to watch at times. When CP CEO Deepak Chopra was called before the House of Commons transport committee, he claimed that senior-citizens had told him they supported door-to-door delivery service cuts. “The seniors are telling me, ‘I want to be healthy. I want to be active in my life…They want to be living fuller lives.” Okay, can anyone actually take this man seriously? Older citizens have told him they want to walk to retrieve their mail to get more exercise and enrich their lives? He also claims these measures are designed to save the flagging crown corporation and that extensive public consultations were carried out. Again this is a dubious claim. As the Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom notes, it’s almost as if Canada Post is failing in its PR and customer relations efforts on purpose.
In a recent Broken Pencil, Kelly Boutsalis scrutinized the clandestine manner in which these wide-reaching and significant cuts were announced. “Postal workers like Melanie Mackenzie learned about the changes by word of mouth, getting just as few details as the public. Mackenzie, a temporary worker for Canada Post in Halifax for the past three years, found out about the changes from a friend, and says even her plant manager found out from the media. -It was that lack of respect that was a slap in the face. We didn’t have any answers, we had so many questions and the next day they did send out this five-point plan which was such bullshit,-she recalls. -it explained nothing and [the] language, it’s so positive: this is what Canadians want! But Canadians weren’t consulted.”
A June CUPW press release states: an independent researcher has studied the impact of ending door-to-door postal delivery on vulnerable populations across the country, including seniors, low-income and persons with disabilities, concluding that Canada Post should “take a step back” and look at alternatives to ending door-to-door delivery. “What many of these groups are proposing is that any changes should be done with transparency, active participation and proper public consultation where the lines of communication are open to all parties” said Caryl-Anne Stordy, author of the study, which was commissioned by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
SOURCES: Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, rabble.ca, Broken Pencil, CUPW, Blacklock’s Reporter, Socialist Worker