Union concerned for post offices

Canada Post insists there are no plans to close Cranbrook, Kimberley post offices

CUPW members warn passersby about the danger to post offices in Cranbrook and Kimberley on Friday

CUPW members warn passersby about the danger to post offices in Cranbrook and Kimberley on Friday

Last week, Canada Post employees were on Baker Street collecting signatures on a petition against a slated closure of Cranbrook’s post office.

The petition reads that Canada Post wants to stop mail delivery to people’s doors and close the post office.

Post office employees had placards saying 1,500 post offices have closed since the 1980s and 1990s, and last year 30 post offices closed in urban areas.

The Kimberley post office was slated to close last year and the Cranbrook one this year, they said.

But John Caines, a spokesperson for Canada Post, said the company has no plans to close either post office.

Rather, he said they are looking at expanding hours to evenings and weekends “to make that product available to (residents) more readily.”

However, John Bail ,the national representative for the Pacific region of CUPW (which represents Canada Post workers), said Canada Post has served them with a map of proposed new postal outlet locations.

“When you go to the locations, there’s usually nothing, maybe a corner with no stores,” he said.

Bail said that Canada Post likely intends to offer postal services through outlets that would make the large, conventional post offices impractical.

“Since that (new) post office is doing all the work, they will then tell people that the post office downtown is not making enough money to maintain,” he said.

The postal workers are petitioning wherever Canada Post is serving the notices.

“Canada Post will say that they don’t have any intention of closing Cranbrook or Kimberley, which is correct,” Bail said. “What they are doing is consulting with the union to ask them for a business plan.”

Every five years the Canadian Postal Service Charter calls for a review of the charter. The last one was in 2008, so it is coming up this year.

“We suspect that Canada Post intends on closing a lot of these offices if they can get out of the moratorium of closure that’s included in the commitments of the government at this point in time,” he said.

Bail said that if Canada Post pulls out of cities like Cranbrook and Kimberley, it could end up costing us more to send and receive mail.

“It costs more to deliver stuff to say Invermere than (Canada Post) receives in postage, so to make a level playing field, you have to know that you’re paying more for a parcel than it would normally cost if it’s going to Toronto, Ottawa or Edmonton to subsidize people in smaller communities,” Bail said.

A resolution put forward by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers last year noted that Canada Post only gives one month’s notice on closure and the union says that isn’t enough time for a community to discuss the closure and look at options.

The resolution asked that municipalities such as Cranbrook write a letter to Steven Fletcher, Canada’s Minister of State for Transport, asking for Canada Post to keep the post offices open, and for consultation with the public, elected officials, postal unions and other major stakeholders.

To contact MP David Wilks email david.wilks@parl.gc.ca or call his constituency office at 250-417-2250.