Union decries continuing cuts to rural post offices

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In January, Canada Post reduced the hours of postal service to 26 rural communities serviced by Group Post Offices.

letter to editor

They are as follows: Chapel Arm, Coley’s Point South, Little Catalina, Baine Harbour, Bellevue, Brownsdale, Bunyan’s Cove, Calvert, Charlottetown, Harbour Mille, Rushoon, St. Shotts, Millertown, Benton, Gander Bay South, Indian Bay, Pound Cove, Frenchman’s Cove, Bellburns, Birchy Head, Eddie’s Cove, Eddie’s Cove West, Green Island Cove, River of Ponds, Pilley’s Island and Seldom Come By.

On Feb. 17, the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association (CPAA) was notified that Canada Post is proposing to reduce one-quarter of the hours of postal service in an additional 24 communities.

They are as follows: Tors Cove, Lower Island Cove, Long Harbour, Fox Harbour, Fermeuse, Cavendish, Blaketown, Aguathuna, Barachois Brook, Black Tickle, Burns Cove, Greenspond, Grey River, Howley, King’s Cove, Lark Harbour, Lodge Bay, Melrose, Nippers Harbour, Plate Cove West, Port Hope Simpson, Postville, Red Harbour, and York Harbour.

Consultation is set for the end of March.

That’s 50 rural communities with reduced postal service in Newfoundland Labrador so far in 2014. We are told that there are more reductions to come. Therefore, we will most likely see the majority, if not all rural post offices, affected in 2014.

Refusing to listen

People of rural Newfoundland Labrador are objecting to those reductions. However, the Canada Post Corporation is refusing to listen.

Our public postal service is being diminished bit by bit until the federally operated post office disappears from rural Canada.

Back in the 1990s, Canada Post was very proud of the fact that they could reach every household across Canada. The small group post office was never a big generator of revenue, as it was never credited with the revenue received from incoming mail.

Canada Post made their money on each item long before it reached its destination in that rural post office. The rural post office is part of the large infrastructure that gave Canada Post that competitive advantage over other delivery companies. This infrastructure was what made Canada Post.

Conflicting numbers

In a report by the Conference Board of Canada, paid for by Canada Post, it states that Canada Post would lose $1 Billion in 2020. The Conference Board based the 2020 estimate on the fact that CPC would lose $250 million in 2012.

The fact is Canada Post actually made $94 million in 2012. The report neglects to mention that Canada Post had an increase of over a half-billion parcels in 2013.  Is the Conference Board making predictions to achieve a goal to dismantle our postal service?

It is a misconception that Canada Post is funded by taxpayer’s money. This is not true, and is quite the opposite.

Canada Post has returned $41 billion to the federal government over the last decade in the form of dividends and corporate taxes. This is in spite of the fact that The Canada Post Act only requires financial self-sufficiency, not profitability.

There is a review of Canada Post scheduled for this year, so why would Canada Post pay for the Conference Board of Canada to conduct one? What was the rush? Why would Canada Post pay the Conference Board to conduct a review where only an invited few was able to give input?

Encouraging input

Our Canadian postal service is a public service. Therefore, the public should weigh in on the provisions of this service, as they did when the mandate review was conducted in 1996.

Why is the CPC so scared about putting this out to Canadians? Why not ask all Canadians what they want?

The majority of postmasters in group post offices, which are the ones servicing most of rural Canada, provide the premises for the post office. With reduced wages as a result of the cuts, most postmasters are in a financial hardship because the cost of providing the premises for the post office does not diminish.

The postmaster pays for all cost including light, heat, business insurance, business taxes, snow clearing and more. Whether the post office is opened seven hours-a-day or five hours-a-day, the cost to the postmaster does not change.

Postmasters have already told us that they are looking at early retirement and two have given their notice.

In the case of postmaster provided premises, Canada Post is getting something for nothing but they are still reducing the service, which tells me that the reduction is not about cost.

Circumventing the Charter

It is about reducing the service to the points that the public will get fed up with the inconvenient service and the position will be too unattractive for a prospective employee. If there is no postmaster, there is no post office. This is how Canada Post is circumventing the Postal Service Charter and the Moratorium.

FedEx came to my door last week to deliver a pair of shoes that I ordered from a local store. I’m puzzled how Canada Post could compete against their competition, Fed Ex and UPS, who deliver during lunch time, evenings, and weekends whereas Canada Post is in the process of closing Saturdays and implementing later opening and earlier closing times.

Is Canada Post destroying the business on the road to privatization?

In the majority of rural communities there is no high speed Internet and no bank. The people solely depend on the post office and a reduction in postal service will devastate these communities.

With no bank, the post office still delivers cheques and residents use the post office to pay bills by money order or money gram.

The residents of each community are objecting to this downgrade of service by signing petitions and sending postcards to their MP, with a request that their voice be heard in the House of Commons.

Canada Post is arrogant in their consultations in that it is not so much consultation as a meeting where Canada Post is telling us what they are going to do.

They are more concerned with higher profits than they are about providing service. This government may very well fall in the next round of elections, but it may be too late to save our postal service.

— Submitted by Shari Porter, a director with the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, and resident of Brigus.

Organizations: Canada Post Corporation, CPAA, Conference Board of Canada Postal Service Charter FedEx Fed UPS House of Commons

Geographic location: Plate Cove West, Canada, Chapel Arm Baine Harbour Newfoundland Labrador Charlottetown Millertown Gander Bay South Indian Bay Pound Cove Green Island River of Ponds Tors Cove Lower Island Cove Long Harbour Fox Harbour Fermeuse Barachois Brook Grey River Lark Harbour Nippers Harbour Port Hope Simpson Postville York Harbour Brigus

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