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More Than 70 Cities Band Together In Effort To Save Canada Post’s Door-To-Door Delivery Service

An article from the National Post

Cities across the country have launched an effort to preserve door-to-door mail delivery, even as the first cuts loom this fall.

Canada Post announced last December it would begin phasing out door-to-door delivery for the one-third of Canadian homes that still have the service, replacing it with community mailboxes. Since then, over 70 municipalities have joined together in opposing the measure, which Canada Post says would save $500-million per year.

“Our postal workers, the people that deliver the mail, are the eyes and ears of the community. They interact each and every day with residents. If mail is collecting at doors they tend to know what’s going on. It’s more than just a delivery of a letter to a home. It’s what the contribution of a letter carrier is to a neighbourhood. If Canada Post is continuing down this path, that’s a bit of a problem for me,” said Mayor John Henry of Oshawa, Ont.

Similar motions from around the country were echoed over the weekend as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities met in Niagara Falls, Ont., for its annual conference.

“One of the biggest issues that all municipalities are stating is a lack of meaningful consultation,” said Oakville Councillor Tom Adams, who tabled a motion that passed unanimously asking the federal government to preserve door-to-door delivery. Oakville is one of 11 communities scheduled to lose the service in the first wave of cuts by October.

Other major cities that have passed resolutions in support of door-to-door delivery include Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has been organizing demonstrations across the country since December, most recently this past weekend in Peterborough, Ont. The union has also hosted town hall meetings in partnership with cities to encourage citizens to contact their MP.

Mr. Adams said Canada Post has not been forthcoming in answering Oakville’s concerns over issues associated with the new community mailboxes. These include access for seniors and those with disabilities, and costs that would be needed for additional street lighting, litter and graffiti removal, theft and clearance of snow and ice.

Mr. Henry vowed he would not let these responsibilities be “downloaded” onto his city’s taxpayers, and that any residents phoning to complain about the changes would be sent to their local MPs or Canada Post.

“Canada Post’s problems are not the problems of the City of Oshawa,” Mr. Henry said. “They just can’t make a decision and then come to us afterwards and say ‘this is what we’re doing.’ That’s not the democracy that we know about. In the end, you can’t raise the price of a stamp and cut the delivery of service.”

But Canada Post insists it would cover new maintenance costs. Canada Post will eliminate 6,000-8,000 jobs as part of the cuts, but spokeswoman Anick Losier said the majority would be through attrition, as 15,000 workers are expected to retire by the time the transition is complete.

“We know these are important, drastic or dramatic changes but they’re necessary,” she said. “We’re talking about the future of the postal service that is at stake here. We have to serve the second largest country in the world in one of the least densely populated countries per square kilometre.”

Edmonton councillor Mike Nickel said reimagining how the service is used could actually save home deliveries. He suggests postal workers could take on additional responsibilities during their delivery routes.

Through an app, postal workers could report back to the city about day-to-day problems they observe such as potholes or burned out streetlights, messy yards, or even criminal activities in a given neighbourhood, he said.

“Instead of throwing something away that we’ve invested in, maybe we should look at trying to add value to what we’ve got,” he said.