OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are terminating a program launched by the former Conservative government to convert existing home mail delivery in Canada to community boxes.
But some 840,000 families who have already started walking down the street for their mail since the conversions began in 2014 won’t see door-to-door delivery restored.
The move is expected to upset postal workers who have demanded the post office turn back the clock on mailbox conversions.
It also means Canada Post won’t realize savings it estimated at $350 million annually from converting the remaining 4.2 million addresses across the country that still get mail dropped at their doorstep.
At least one analyst says that will hamper the Crown corporation’s ability to remain self sustaining as letter mail revenues continue to decline.
Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough rolled out the new plan for Canada Post today at a sorting plant in Mississauga, Ont.
Under the plan, a task force will be struck to examine how to enhance Canada Post’s accessibility program for seniors and people with mobility issues who lost home delivery.
The Liberals vaguely promised during the 2015 election campaign to “save home mail delivery” after an outcry over the community mailbox conversion plan launched by the Conservatives.
Qualtrough also announced changes to the financial rules that drive Canada Post, allowing the agency to make a profit and then re-invest the extra money back into operations to improve services and remain self-sustaining over the long run.
Senior leadership at the post office, which is in the midst of a large-scale turnover that includes a search for a new CEO, will also be mandated to establish more cordial labour relations.
Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are currently in contract negotiations.
As well, the government is encouraging Canada Post to promote its postal money order business to Canadians who send money to friends and family abroad.
CUPW had called instead for a re-introduction of banking services at postal outlets as a way to make money, an idea that has been rejected by the agency.
The government will also ask Canada Post to capitalize on a boom in its parcel services, since that’s where the money and growth are.
While mail deliveries by postal workers have been declining drastically in recent years, Canada Post has seen parcel delivery volumes soar.
The agency saw parcel delivery revenues increase by 41 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 alone, compared with the same period the previous year, officials said.
And Canada Post will be expected to look at how other countries have used weekend delivery or parcel lockers to bolster their postal service revenues.
The government will also be looking at ways to leverage the fact that Canada Post has a presence in even the smallest of Canadian communities, and could be used to deliver other government services.
Canada Post said it made a profit of roughly $81 million from all of its operations in 2016, down from $99 million in 2015.
It estimated that restoring door-to-door delivery to the households converted to community boxes since 2014 would have cost $195 million, plus ongoing costs of about $90 million annually.
Under the Liberal plan, community mailboxes will continue to be installed in new housing developments, a practice that’s been ongoing since the 1980s.
Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press