OTTAWA—Transport Minister Lisa Raitt is defending Canada Post’s decision to phase out urban mail delivery over the next five years while hiking the price of stamps.
Raitt, the minister responsible for the Crown corporation, says Canadians are sending less mail than ever, leaving Canada Post with some tough financial decisions in order to combat a steep decline in revenues.
She says a typical Canadian household buys only one to two dozen stamps a year, and mail volumes continue to plummet, having fallen nearly 25 percent per household since 2008.
“The government of Canada supports Canada Post in its efforts to fulfil its mandate of operating on a self-sustaining financial basis in order to protect taxpayers, while modernizing its business and aligning postal services with the choices of Canadians,” Raitt said in a statement.
She adds she is looking forward to “seeing progress” as Canada Post rolls out its cost-cutting plans.
Canada Post announced Tuesday that rising costs and falling mail volumes have made it impossible to continue its traditional operations. It plans to phase out home delivery within the next five years, replacing foot delivery with community mail boxes.
The Crown corporation said about 6,000 to 8,000 positions will be eliminated over the same time period, mainly through attrition. The postal service expects nearly 15,000 employees to retire or leave the company in the next five years.
The NDP’s Olivia Chow and Peter Julian assailed the Conservative government for the decision.
“Conservatives are destroying Canadians’ long-treasured postal services,” Chow said in a statement.
“These job-killing and service-cutting measures will isolate seniors, the poor, and the disabled living in urban areas.”
On Parliament Hill, Julian criticized the government for the timing of the announcement. The House of Commons adjourned on Tuesday until late January.
“There are really serious concerns being raised about this and yet we have the government announcing it after the House is adjourned, and that tells you everything you want to know about how they think Canadians are going to react,” Julian said.
“It’s profoundly disrespectful to Canadians and disrespectful to Parliament.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said the decision doesn’t appear to be based on any in-depth study of the potential impact, and wasn’t preceded by any meaningful discussion with customers.
“The consultation that Canada Post apparently did is singularly lacking in metrics, in numbers— it’s basically anecdotal,” Trudeau said.
“We need to make sure that Canadians are being properly served by an institution like Canada Post, and that will require a little more robust discussion and study than this government has actually taken on.”
The Green Party’s Elizabeth May was equally disdainful.
“This decision will disproportionately affect the elderly and Canadians living with disabilities, for whom home delivery of letters and parcels provides a critical link,” May said.
“Canada Post claims to be listening to Canadians, yet I’ve yet to hear anyone tell me that they no longer want letters delivered to their homes.”
With files from The Canadian Press