Taking Canada Post to task

Cranbrook Council resolution calls on Minister of Transport to order public consultation into home delivery

Canada Post’s plan to discontinue home delivery in communities is being met with disapproval from many of those communities, as well as Canada Post’s letter carriers.

At Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Gerry Warner put forward a resolution to send a letter to the Honourable Lisa Raitt, federal Minister of Transport, expressing the city’s objection to Canada Post cancelling door-to-door mail delivery.

Warner’s resolution also recommends that Raitt order Canada Post to conduct public consultation hearings to consider other options before door-to-door delivery is abolished.

Warner argued that door-to-door delivery still takes place six days a week in countries similar to Canada, like Britain and the U.S., and the delivery method has been a traditional feature of Canadian life and culture for almost 150 years.

“Momentum seems to be building and there’s a lot of anger in the country,” Warner said. “A lot of municipalities are objecting and sending letters.”

Mayor Wayne Stetski said he supported the motion, partly out of concern for seniors and others who will have difficulties getting to the new mailboxes.

Coun. Diana J. Scott was the only member of council vote against the resolution. Scott felt it was too similar to what council had sent to Canada Post in an earlier letter.

“We already sent a letter with these concerns and we’ve already received a response,” Scott said.

Mayor Stetski noted that the letter council sent asked the Canada Post for further information and to come to council, but did not specifically object to the move to phase out door-to-door delivery. He noted the letter also asked Canada Post to look at other innovations like postal banking, which it seemed have not been  pursued by the Crown corporation.

“Perhaps with public consultations hearings they’ll hear lots of good ideas that will make them even more vibrant into the future,” Stetski said.

Coun. Bob Whetham also supported the motion saying that if council waits until it’s the their turn, then Canada Post will face any concerns by simply pointing to other communities where door-to-door delivery has already been phased out by that time.

“It’s something that needs to be done across the country before Canada Post takes action,” Whetham said.

Coun. Angus Davis supported the motion and spoke about the communities along the Whitehead Hwy in northern B.C.

“The post office was the heart of the community,” Davis  said. “People from all over the territories would come to the post office on Saturday mornings. In their wisdom (Canada Post) ripped those little post offices out. If you go to those same little communities the heart of the town is gone.”

Karen Panchuk, president of the Cranbrook local Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), said the union workers are worried about the coming changes as well, and will be having a job action on Wednesday, May 14. Two members of CUPW will be walking around Cranbrook.

“They will be petitioning,” she said. “We have lawn signs that say, basically, ‘Save door-to-door delivery,’ something to stick on your lawn just to say you want to keep door-to-door delivery.”

For people who don’t want a lawn sign, the CUPW also has window signs.

“It’s just letting people know that you do have a choice because it is your public service,” she said. “It’s showing how you can be proactive instead of reactive.”

Panchuk worries that people with mobility issues will not be able to easily get their mail anymore.

Panchuk said she hoped the city would ask Canada Post to provide more transparency.

“A lot of the other municipalities – Vancouver, Toronto – have signed resolutions saying that they wish that Canada Post has a transparency report,” she said. “They want to have everything above the board before the cuts. It’s easy to put all the words out there, but how much have they actually put into a study before the cuts?”

She said, for instance, in 16 out of the 17 years since Canada Post has been a Crown corporation it has shown a profit.

“The one year that they showed a loss was when we were locked out – for one thing,” she explained. “And two, they had a pay equity that they had to back pay, so that was a big loss for Canada Post.”

She said while mail volumes are down, parcel volumes are way up, the more profitable side of the business.

The job action will begin Wednesday morning on Cranbrook Street North and then move into the residential areas.