Big Changes At Canada Post

canada postProviding postal service in a country as sprawling as Canada has always been a challenging proposition. We’re used to incremental increases in postal rates to cover inflation and whatnot. At a news conference today, Canada Post said that the next price increase would come into effect in March. It will see the price of a stamp rise from 63 cents to 85 cents (if the stamps are bought in a pack). If stamps are bought separately, the price jumps to a dollar.

Oh yeah, and Canada Post has plans over the next five years to phase out home delivery of mail in all urban centres. Instead, urban Canadians will get their mail at group mail boxes and other centralized mail points.

The moves are being made to try to staunch the flow of red ink at the corporation (which lost $104 million in the second quarter of 2013 alone), and is expected to result in the elimination of between 6000-8000 jobs. You can read more in this CBC report.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

49 thoughts on “Big Changes At Canada Post”

  1. I assume that places like apartment buildings which already have a central mailbox area will see no change in service…. although it would be nice to see an outgoing slot added to my lobby.
    Many of the newer subdivisions already have super-mailboxes instead of door-to-door delivery; this kind of change may actually make sense in that regard. Efficiency may actually increase as a result.
    A dollar for a stamp though is crazy.

  2. It was only a matter of time. In our neighbourhood, there are several logical places to put group boxes; if they’re used, the city will finally have to keep the adjacent sidewalks clear in winter. I guess that’s an up side.

  3. I listened to CBC Noon Hour phone in discussion about Canada Post’s upcoming changes.
    Several expressed concerns about how changes from door to door residentlay mail delivery will affect the poor, diabled and elderly. I hate to say newsflash to those callers, but several places including towns and newer areas in cities don’t get door to door delivery and it’s been like that for many years now. How does it affect those people who live without door to door delivery. They somehow get by.
    It’s just another change that some people won’t like.

  4. Forgot that if Amazon will start using air drones for several deliveries in a few years time, the will mean other shipping companies will adopt that also. Perhaps Canada Post will look into that?

  5. The elimination of thousands more middle-income careers, and weakening of yet another strong union in Canada. MMm, great news.

    People often choose to live or not to live in newer subdivisions based on things like community boxes. If you’re moving to Harbour Landing, you can’t complain about not having door to door delivery cuz that’s what you chose.

    This, along with the dollar stamp, will simply kill mail in Canada, which is probably the point. Some private firms will enter the market and offer bulk business mail for far less, and pay their deliverers $13.46 and hour instead of $25 and filter up profits to the parent company in Arkansas or Germany.

    Barb, as for the city clearing the sidewalks, what makes you think that will happen? I don;t even know who does it, but I’ve never seen more than a 6-foot swath of clearing around a “superbox”, just enough to stand it to collect your mail and flyers.

  6. Talbot: maybe you aren’t looking in the right places.

    Further to the loss of door-to-door delivery, cities will now get the service that rural folks have always had.

  7. Can’t remember who said this first (maybe it was from last year when Domino’s demonstrated drone delivery for pizzas) but… Amazon’s new drone delivery method will be perfect for neighborhoods with huge open back yards in cities that have no weather, fences, power lines, airlines or people.

  8. Barb, what are the “right places”? And why should cities “get the service that ‘rural folks’ have always had”? There are advantages and disadvantages to living in the city and living in the country. I detect small-town bitterness and resentment in your words. Should city dwellers now receive the same level of transit service and EMS response time that “rural folks” receive, just you know, to keep things even? As a lifelong “urban folk” (for what that’s worth in Regina) I’m not sure what the rural advantage is, but do you think it would be worth trading door to door mail, transit, and EMS for? Some ppl make that choice. Don’t be demented and small-town bitter about it. Move tot he city, and join an aquacize class.

  9. Dear Talbot: your detection sense, not to mention your common sense, has failed you. I’m a city-dweller, and have been for decades. What I said above is simply a statement of the facts, not altogether different from what Andrew Coyne and others have said in response to Canada Post’s announcement.

  10. mb: the folks you mention above who fear being disadvantaged by the loss of door-to-door delivery must be unaware that government cheques are being phased out in favour of direct deposit; this will be the norm next year. That takes millions of items out of the mail, and also reduces the chances of property and identity theft by mailbox burglars.

  11. When you look at how the usage of Canada Post has dropped steadily every year (and how their operating deficit keeps growing), and think about postal carriers wandering around neighbourhoods with less and less to deliver all the time, conceivably stopping at fewer houses all the time, it seems that these workers are wasting more and more time walking from delivery to delivery, thus costing a lot of money being inefficient. Reducing the number of delivery points should, conceivably, be more efficient and cost-effective.

  12. Gorden: well put. Letter carriers currently also have a time schedule to keep, so the fewer the drops, the less delay.

  13. Gordon: You said it well.

    Barb: I agree. That’s not a bad thing at all. I think postal thefts are on the decline.

    Talbot: I doubt your logic in regards to whether someone chooses to buy a house with either them getting home mail delivery or they get the mail from a superbox by themselves. That is usually the last thing on their mind. A person chooses a house based more on price, affordability and demographics of the area.
    And sure, I agree it’s frustatring to lose jobs just like I or anybody else has. We learn to adapt.
    And when will the union who represents the postal workers get with Canada Post’s financial realities? How can they expect Canada Post to mainain the same level of staff and pay their salaries when it has less work and losing $?
    Canada Post made a business decision for it’s long term viability. And it’s a gradual plan. The nearly 8,000 positions that will disappear won’t happen overnight.

  14. Gorden, your speculation sounds nice in theory, but isn’t true in practice. LC’s hustle, and I mean they really hustle. You would not find one being inefficient or they’d fail to complete their duties in a shift. While there are fewer personal letters, there are still plenty of bills, compliance pieces, and more than ever, admail and junk mail. They still have to hit most stops with that junk so your speculation about them not making many stops was off by approximately 5 million stops.

    They also have big efficiencies now with package services being done by LC’s. The plan to kill LC’s will actually erase those efficiency gains, something I’m sure has not been factored into the sensational headlines.

    It’s superficial for one branch of the government to count the killing of 8,000 jobs as net saving, while not accounting for the destructive impact of 8,000 families losing their primary income.

    The flawed thinking is this trendy idea that a beneficial government service has to be assessed like it’s some capitalist enterprise. Why?

    What’s the profit-loss statement for Parliament Hill? Can we phase that out until it can find a business plan to break even?

    And how about the lack of profits coming from welfare and health care. Those “companies” lose more in a single day than postal service loses in a year and a half.

    This recent obsession that everything has to be measured like a corporate scorecard is wrecking the country. Maybe we should be sensible and realize that some services aren’t ever going to be big money makers. And if servicing Canadian citizens’ needs is now about making sure we can extract corporatized profits from everyone, then we’ve lost our way.

  15. Just FYI, and to clarify who runs what: Canada Post has been a crown corporation since 1981, thanks largely to the efforts of the then-president of CUPW, Jean-Claude Parrot. He also worked successfully to merge the inside workers’ union with the letter carriers’ union.

  16. Canada Post already downsizes every year; they keep pace with the decline in lettermail volumes, so it’s not like some dude is out there walking by 4 houses for every one he delivers to. They call it “restructuring”. Plus they have to hit a full third of all houses at a time every day with admail. Recently at the Regina South depot, they cut 4.5 routes, from 31 routes to 26.5. For the remaining 26 fulltime letter carriers, their shifts got extended by about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. The other four end up as fill-in ppl. Last year it was the North depot, and in 2014, the downtown depot, where they drive cars and thus also deliver anywhere from 10-50 parcels a day, get “restructured”.

    I don’t know if these new announcements will factor in; it almost seems that if Regina downtown is due for a restructure in 2014, the timing is right for the new thing.

  17. Yeah Barb, it just sounded like you were trying to play a little class warfare there, justifying the loss of urban door-to-door as a means of “level the playing the field” with our rural brethren and brethrenettes. At the root of what you said, it reminded me of part-time #Occupy protesters (most I believe in) who really just want what ‘the man’ has and can’t get it. Of course, if taking away something good from a slice of the population is what it takes to “make things right”, well, that’s never a problem. Tho, I find the whole analogy between rural and urban service absurd because for geographical obviousnesseszzz, you simply can’t do door-to-door in rural areas, unless 86-yr-old Harry wants to go take it out just for the hell of it.

  18. Oh, and as for delivery volumes, from what i understand, while every 2 or 3 years they make the routes longer to account for a drop in overall daily volume, pretty every house still gets mail, every single day. I don;t have actual numbers but think of it this way: While maybe in 1994, every house received an average of 4 letters a day, now they receive 2.9 letters per day. The carrier still has to hit that house, just like in 1994, except that now he has more houses to hit, just less mail. So if you delivered a million pieces of mail a day to 450 houses, now you deliver a million pieces a day spread out over 625 houses. So maybe a letter carrier’s bag is lighter from box to box, but he or she walks further. And that’s to say nothing of the all the admail they have to carry.

  19. Talbot, you read too much into people’s comments, sometimes. I don’t do class warfare, I have and I am far, far from being an apologist for Canada Post; I do, however, indulge in irony, and I couldn’t pass it up.

    I can remember when there was Saturday mail delivery, door-to-door. What a row was kicked up when that was discontinued.

  20. Thank you Talbot Fresh for adding numbers to what I said. Indeed the myth that every postal worker is some lazy overpaid package thief has always been counterproductive, now it will be used to cheer the death of ten thousand jobs.

    The people rejoicing about this artificial money saving scheme will complain when their restaurant loses sales, their business does poorly, their employer cuts back, and their taxes go up. Nobody will make the connection that the reason for all these negative things is the grinding cumulative effect of thousand and thousands of jobs being killed or degraded in this very way.

  21. More of Barb’s best here. As if reducing mail delivery to 5 days per week is the same as killing the entire home mail delivery service.

    Since you’re pitting urban and rural, and now old against young, how we do a profit and loss statement on schools? Any school not showing high profit level could be shut down.

    At least such comments remind me that the upside of not being privileged is I get to maintain my common sense.

  22. Ron, as I remember learning it, UK has double the population of Canada all condensed in an area equivalent to half the size of Saskatchewan. But that aside, what would you say are the lessons that could have been taken from Royal Mail to do more sensible restructure of Canada Post?

  23. There is a big difference between ; A million pieces of Mail everyday , & how many places you actually deliver to. A finite poit, What is mail, what is junk mail?

    If It,( the mail), doesn’ t specifically have my family name on it. i doesn’t get sent here.

    My mbox has had that posted on it for 1 year, starting 1/1 2014.

    I’ve saved more than 150lbs. of QC & related flyers coming here. In 1 year.

  24. Dear Reader: your handle is a misnomer, actually, as you did not read my comments with care. There’s no class or age warfare in my remarks; only your overheated imagination at work. My point about Saturday delivery was that Canada Post has changed its service before, and there was fuss. Whenever there’s been change in this country, there’s been fuss: the change to metric, the change to official bilingualism, the loonie, the twoonie, the plasticized bills — you name it, there’s been an uproar, and yet people have adjusted and made their lives work.
    My statement about people being unaware that the government is phasing out its cheques was a statement of fact. You’ll recall that not long ago, Canada Post was floating the idea of reducing mail delivery to 2 – 3 days a week instead of 5 (which predictably, people didn’t like). I suspect that the federal decision to go to Direct Deposit to replace cheques may have strongly influenced CPost’s decision to take more drastic action.
    Yes, this change is going to be hard; think of charities and small businesses.
    For outrage, think about the retailers, like Shoppers Drug Mart, who ordered large numbers of the stamps that don’t have a price printed on them, and who are now not permitted to sell them.

  25. Barb, your tales of how you in the older and privileged class have been able to roll with tragedies like the loss of Saturday mail are nice and dismissive.

    I still contend that eliminating Saturdays is not equivalent to eliminating all delivery forever.

    It’s sad how naive people are to suddenly quote biased statistics spooned straight from the team that’s trying to kill home delivery. In one post Talbot Fresh Jr was able to dispell them, yet nobody is reporting it.

    It makes no difference to routes if an LC is dropping 3 letters at every house instead of 4. And this same logic applies even if the average number of letters changes to 2, 1, or even 5.

    Is mail delivery really that expensive? As I already pointed out, one day of health/care welfare pays for almost 2 years of Canada Post, probably 3 years with the new price hikes. And there’s plenty of room for incremental improvements on that, except such sensible ideas are being overlooked.

    Is paying LC’s “bad” for the economy? Those LC’s use their jobs to patronize businesses, and pay their school taxes that in turn allow school systems to pay their teachers and bureaucrats. Can you not see that killing LC jobs is not a full and automatic saving of money?

    The upfront saving of money is all removed from the system. $100 million “saved” translates into millions in new EI and welfare payments to these freshly unemployed. It then leads to lower activity from the loss of business, and lower school tax revenues for people like you.

    Please realize there’s a major difference with cost savings that don’t kill jobs. There’s savings that don’t create this kind of economic blowback. Saving a million using cheaper fuel does not have the same blowback as saving a million by firing people.

    The obsession with profit margins is the problem. Even your own prosperous life would not have been possible if profit margins determined whether something should live or die.

  26. Barb, I don’t know the details of your sympathy for Shoppers Drug Mart. I know they are refusing to sell the permanent stamps, but don’t know whether they tried to stockpile them for arbitrage or what.

    I do predict they will prosper in this transaction. I’d point out they have been the main private sector winner in Canada Post’s ongoing service killing moves over the years.

    When Canada Post got rid of outlets, they gave rich concessions to many SDM locations. The service in these concessions is generally terrible, yet being a monopoly, citizens are forced to use them.

    And never mind the concession profits, this arrangement forces any Canadian who needs postal service to visit and spend lots of time waiting in a Shoppers Drug Mart. Government is doing physical captive marketing for SDM. You’ll notice the postal desk is carefully situated far to the back, forcing users to meander Shoppers for-profit aisles.

    It’s just another example of how good jobs were killed to create more profit for private business. You of all people should know that some things in society are worthwhile, even if they aren’t making record profits. After all you prospered from this very concept. Yet you are cheering the killing of jobs to boost private corporate profits. As you put it yourself, talk about indulging in irony.

  27. Dear, dear Reader: speaking of class and age warfare, what are you waging, above? Where does the assumption come from that I am privileged and prosperous, or that I somehow prospered from things that don’t make a profit? Why do you speak of “lower school revenues for people like you”? I’m not at all sure what you’re getting at, here. And, sorry to disabuse you of your belief, but you and Talbot don’t constitute “everyone”.

    Where did I “quote biased statistics”? Was it the millions of govt, cheques? That’s verifiable from census figures. What is the source of your and Talbot’s figures?

    I cited Shoppers Drug Mart as an example. That’s a problem for you, how? And as to “stockpiling”, a retailer was interviewed on the late CTV National News last night, speaking of the usual Pre-Christmas orders of stamps (because at Christmas, people use the mail a lot more), and how he is not permitted to sell the no-price ones. As to service, your general condemnation of SDM’s postal service is not borne out by what I have seen and heard. You sound like someone who has an animus against any business whatsoever.

    Nowhere in the comments above did I ‘[cheer] the killing of jobs to boost private corporate profits”. AsI said, I’m far from being an apologist for Canada Post. Like others, however, I’m capable of seeing the writing on the wall, as unwelcome as its message may be.

    If I may quote from Michael Den Tandt’s commentary in today’s Leader Post: “Misrepresenting opponents’ positions — lying — is standard fare in the Conservative party playbook”. I wouldn’t limit that behaviour to the Conservatives, by any means, reader.

  28. Third paragraph: You sound like someone who has an animus against any business whatsoever.”

    Fifth paragraph: If I may quote from Michael Den Tandt’s commentary in today’s Leader Post: “Misrepresenting opponents’ positions — lying — is standard fare in the Conservative party playbook”. I wouldn’t limit that behaviour to the Conservatives, by any means, reader.

  29. Barb, you derived your income from a totally unprofitable venture, that being the indirect running of schools. By your new logic, schools should all be closed because “the writing is on the wall”.

    I’m merely pointing out that some functions of a society have other beneficial purposes besides that of profit centers. Schools teach the young, and mail delivery brings documents to citizens.

    Not everything needs to be profitable.

    I also struggle to illustrate the killing mail delivery isn’t a pure saving at all. The $100 million saved per quarter is probably going to be offset by some amount that will pay people to be unemployed, another amount that is the extra cost of having dedicated couriers do what LC’s currently do on their routes, and by harm to the country when 8000 families can no longer participate in a beneficial economic cycle. I suspect these costs are actually far more expensive and harmful than the savings being claimed.

  30. As for Shoppers postage stockpile, I’m willing to bet you a stamp that SDM will be reimbursed for their inventory.

  31. Dear Reader: speaking of logic, that’s quite an illogical leap you’re making, and quite an extrapolation. You’d never pass Philosophy 101. As I indicated above, you completely misrepresent my position, and I think deliberately so. Furthermore, you have not answered my legitimately put questions. What are you afraid of?

    I did indeed serve on a public school board, which by the way, directly operates schools through its policies and personnel. I wonder, though, if you would be as apparently outraged by the money earned by current school board members, for example, Carla Beck, representing Subdivision 5, Regina? I think not, somehow.

    I have no argument with your 3rd paragraph, because it is well what may happen. I am not pleased by the prospects, but I could see them coming — which you refuse to acknowledge, or Which you distort.

    When I comment, I do so under my own name. You have made the choice to insinuate and misrepresent under an alias. There have been times that I thought you might be a sock puppet; I am not entirely convinced otherwise, after this exchange. If you really have the courage of your convictions, comment under your own name.

  32. I should hope that retailers are reimbursed for a decision that Canada Post made and which inconveniences both them and their customers.

  33. Barb, you continue to insult rather than argue sensibly. You make false suppositions, and then demand they be answered. This is a particular type of argumentative fallacy. The fact you don’t know that suggests whether it was you or I who failed their courses.

    The main point is that not every service needs to be profitable to be valuable. The public money you absorbed while presiding over perpetual monetary losses should have taught you that.

    Keep in mind, the reason you’re wrong is not because of who you are. You’re wrong because what you say is wrong. Who you are just makes it ironic.

  34. I don’t think you understand the term. Sock Puppet refers to someone who posts under a false identity to give the appearance of independence from a subject for which they are expressing support or praise.
    On another thread, you claimed that what people reveal online leaves their lives an “open book” to be exploited for personal attacks. Here you claim that discretionary use of one’s online identity reflects a lack of courage. (If I thought you were capable of such complexity, I would take that as a backhanded compliment.)
    The persistence of pernicious ad hominem attacks leads either to a rise in anonymous and pseudonymous posting or to an abandonment altogether of an online community.

  35. For a quarter-century, I lived in a neighbourhood that didn’t have “to the front door” delivery.

    I kept hoping that it would someday be expanded to my neighbourhood.

    Should’ve said something to an MP a lot sooner and more often, shouldn’t I?

    :-(

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  37. The United States still have Saturday delivery and Great Britain just discontinued it; I don;t know if the same person works 6 days a week or if there’s overlap, but I wouldn’t want Saturday delivery and I highly doubt Canadians really felt a huge impact when that was suspended. However, unlike merely changing from paper bills to coins or plastic, they’re actually taking this door to door service away and not replacing it with anything comparable.

    Personally, I’m sure my neighbourhood will be one of the last to change but once it does I will lose all interest in my mail and I will immediately start rejecting the admail offerings – due to the incredibly highly impersonal nature of a community mail box box, I won’t have to worry about the letter carriers personal feelings anymore. You know, and that’s not really a good instinct to help build a productive, flourishing society, but what are you going to do?

    Anyway, there’s something to be said for maintaining the tradition and intimacy of door to door in a country; Canadians are way too quick to embrace these heartless so-called market solutions or whatever they are, in the name of some sort of efficiency or expediency. While other countries view us as “polite” and courteous, I’m sure they’d be shocked to learn just how cold hearted and calculating we can be, totally drained of all sentimentality and nostalgia unless it comes from a Tim Hortons’ commercial around Christmastime.

    People will and should fight this, though. And not just those who receive door to door – People who may one day receive it, and those who care about labour and those who oppose dismantling quaint traditions just cuz.

  38. BTW, what is this about the government going totally direct-deposit on its assistance cheques?? The last I read, when cheques were delayed at New Year’s last year, that 73% already went in via direct deposit; the other 27% didn;t have bank accounts. So are you telling me that, in a favour to big banks, our govts are forcing social assistance recipients into costly bank accounts at say $10 a month per person, rather than spending 50 some odd cents per bulk stamp cost per person?? Maybe it saves them coin over cashing at some skeazy fast-money place but still…wow, one more ode to the big banks that own us all, who keeps turning over billions in profit every year while raising fees and penalizing us heavily for late payments (you useless irresponsible ingrates). Bow, Canadians, bow, to your masters: Big Canadian banks. Don;t forget to make those RRSP contribuitions. They’ll go nowhere, but we’ll reap millions in fees.

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