Canada Post has the largest vehicle fleet in the country and the most extensive coast- to-coast retail presence. It could dramatically expand the range of services it provides.
This idea may surprise certain segments of the population who are forecasting “the death of the letter” and even the post office because of an explosion of electronic technology and increased competition in the postal sector.
The fact is people, not machines or markets, will ultimately determine whether our public post office survives and thrives.
While fewer people are writing personal letters, mailing cheques, or subscribing to magazines, more people are shopping online and ordering parcels. Millions of pieces of mail are moving through the system. And recent studies show that most of us aren’t yet ready to pay our bills and bank online without a paper trail.
So let’s not bury the post office just yet and, instead, look at what’s really happening.
While mail volumes fluctuate, profits have remained consistent, including projections for 2010. Meanwhile, Canada Post is bringing in new methods and machinery that they say will save millions.
A $2-billion investment in modernization should be accompanied by a vision for bigger, better service that allows Canada Post’s customers to benefit from the improved efficiency of the system.
Canada Post has a choice to make about whether our public post office goes down this road or another in the face of challenges such as falling volumes, electronic diversion and increased competition.
One option is scaling back. The corporation could continue to cut services and contract out. Communities would continue to lose services and post offices would continue to close. Canada Post would cease to provide good jobs in communities, replacing them with precarious jobs.
The other option is innovation and expansion: new services, increased hours of business, good jobs, and increased revenue to the public purse. Canada Post could provide banking services like post offices in other countries (New Zealand, France, Italy, India, Brazil, United Kingdom). Rural communities have seen the banks turn their backs on them and close branches. Even more are out of reach of high-speed internet access. Canada Post could also set its sights on being the “last kilometre” delivery agent for all parcels. It already provides “last kilometre” parcel deliveries in rural and small communities on behalf of FedEx. This is not only good for Canada Post, it is also good for the environment, as having denser delivery service means fewer vehicles, less fuel and a reduction in emissions.
Canada Post will have a new president and chief executive officer any day now. Do you want Canada Post to continue to cut back, contract out, and stand by while the government erodes the mechanism for providing universal public postal service? Or do you want Canada Post to find creative ways to serve you better, increase revenues, and keep your postal service healthy?
Canada Post belongs to you. You deserve more.
Denis Lemelin, national president
Canadian Union of Postal Workers