Electronic communication has taken a grim toll at Canada Post. Canadians have read of two big changes: on March 1, the stamp price skyrockets from 63 cents to $1, a 59 per cent increase, and door-to-door delivery ends.
The actual plan is not quite that bad.
â€¢ Single stamps will cost $1, but by the package, 85 cents â€“ a 35 per cent increase.
â€¢ Delivery in rural areas will continue.
â€¢ About one-third of Canadian households will lose home delivery, phased in over five years.
â€¢ Delivery to apartment blocks, seniors homes, and other centralized points will continue.
Given that Canada Post will lose about $400 million this year, and a projected $1 billion by 2020, something must be done.
Canada Postâ€™s remedy is puzzling. Only a competition-sheltered government monopoly could see a solution, instead of a downward spiral, in reducing services while raising costs sharply.
There is a better, multi-faceted option.
First, current door-to door delivery should continue for five years. That would permit seniors and disabled people to make residence decisions.
Second, stamp cost should be adjusted to 65 cents, not 85 cents.
Third, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers should accept adjustment of benefits to save the system. The average workerâ€™s $23.11 wage is realistic, but the 11 paid holidays, vacations between three and seven weeks, the double-time wages for a sixth or seventh day of work, many other generous benefits, and a generous pension after 30 years at age 55 need adjustment.
Fourth, postal delivery should be reduced to three days a week â€“ Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In this electronic age, that should meet all needs.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers should not expect much public support in their current plight.
Many Canadians recall that the CUPW ignored the public interest during its 1981 42-day strike which cost businesses a reported $3 billion.
Or the 1978 strike, when the union defied back-to-work legislation.
Or the other 18 costly work stoppages in the past 50 years.
Now, however, the CUPW, Canada Post, and the public must cooperate to save a key public service.
John H. Redekop, Adjunct Professor, Trinity Western University