by Ella Bedard, published October 16, 2014
The plan to end home delivery of mail violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That’s the argument behind a legal challenge against the Federal Government by the Canadian Union of Postal workers (CUPW), seniors’ groups, and organizations for people with disabilities.
The coalition intends to file a case with the Federal Court of Canada under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They also argue that the decision to end door-to-door delivery is beyond the Crown Corporation’s authority and should be made by the Parliament of Canada.
“This is a decision which will affect people across Canadians, particularly seniors and people with disabilities,” said John Anderson of the Centre for Canadian Policy Alternatives. “Canada post has done this without any real consultation.”
The Canada Post charter was up for public review this year, but the review has yet to occur.
“We need a national debate on this issue, but we haven’t had that debate,” said Anderson, who has written about postal banking as an option for Canada Post.
In December 2013, Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra announced that the crown corporation would be ending door-to-door delivery for five million Canadians, incurring a loss of at least 8,000 jobs as well as an increase in service costs. This would make Canada the only G8 country without home delivery.
Though Canada Post held a record of 16 profitable years in 2011, and a profit of 98 million in 2012, Canada Post cites continued losses as the main reasons for cutting home mail delivery.
Certainly, with the advent of as electronic communication and billing services letter delivery has declined in Canada and around the world. However, as Anderson explains, the company’s financial straights have been exaggerated by Canada Post and the Conservative Government.
“This is a slow decline,” says Anders, “[Canada Post] still delivers something like nine billion pieces of mail for which the minimum cost now is about a dollar a stamp. And parcel delivery is very much on the increase.”
“What I see in terms of the bigger picture is that part of the strategy of Canada Post is really to run it into the ground, so that it is open for privatization.” This process has already begun in Winnipeg, where a private company has begun to offer a for-fee door-to-door delivery service.
“Crown corporations have a social responsibility, that’s what they were made for,” says Anderson, which is why “most other countries have gone the route of increases services to preserve mail delivery.”
This case is one of a number of ongoing efforts to save Canada post.
Ella Bedard is rabble.ca’s labour intern. She has written about labour issues for Dominion.ca and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People. She now lives in Toronto where she enjoys chasing the labour beat, biking and birding.
NDP note: Canada Post turned a massive $299-million profit in 2014