Postal re­forms make no sense


Lethbridge Herald - - READER’S FORUM -

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to end the phase­out of home mail de­liv­ery rep­re­sents a tri­umph of bad politics over good judg­ment. In or­der to keep a rash elec­tion prom­ise — or at least be able to claim they did — the Lib­er­als an­nounced last week that those lucky Cana­di­ans who still get doorto-door ser­vice will not have to give it up or need to walk to a dreaded com­mu­nity mail box.

It’s a se­ri­ously flawed plan that not only cre­ates an in­equitable, two-tier sys­tem for mail ser­vice but se­ri­ously jeop­ar­dizes the longterm vi­a­bil­ity of Canada Post.

It means that the 4.2 mil­lion ad­dresses across the coun­try that still get mail dropped at their doorsteps will con­tinue to ben­e­fit from a ser­vice de­nied to the vast ma­jor­ity of Cana­di­ans.

Mean­while, the 840,000 house­holds that lost home de­liv­ery since 2014 have been told they will never get the ser­vice back.

Like­wise, the mil­lions of house­holds that have been us­ing com­mu­nity mail boxes since they first started be­ing in­tro­duced 32 years ago will also have to con­tinue mak­ing the trek to those unloved neigh­bour­hood fix­tures.

As for new hous­ing de­vel­op­ments be­ing built now and in fu­ture, their res­i­dents will have to make do with com­mu­nity mail­boxes. No home de­liv­ery for them.

This is a lu­di­crous, con­tra­dic­tory jum­ble of a pub­lic pol­icy.

For some Cana­di­ans, home mail de­liv­ery is rec­og­nized as some kind of sa­cred right.

For most of the coun­try — and that means peo­ple who pay the same taxes and postal charges as those with door-to-door ser­vice — home de­liv­ery re­mains an unattain­able dream.

Canada Post of­fi­cials ar­gued con­vinc­ingly that given the 44-per­cent de­cline in let­ter mail vol­umes be­tween 2006 and 2016, they had to rad­i­cally over­haul their busi­ness or else op­er­ate at a sig­nif­i­cant loss that some­one — mean­ing tax­pay­ers — would have to pick up.

In­deed, had Canada Post pro­ceeded with its plan to phase out home de­liv­ery, it would have saved $400-mil­lion a year, cer­tainly enough to put it on more solid fi­nan­cial ground.

But the mi­nor­ity who op­posed the change was an an­gry, vo­cal mi­nor­ity.

Ea­ger to dif­fer­en­ti­ate his party from the Stephen Harper Conservatives who ap­proved Canada Post’s plan, Justin Trudeau pledged in the 2015 elec­tion cam­paign to “save home mail de­liv­ery.”

Now, hav­ing stud­ied Canada Post’s fi­nan­cial health and re­al­iz­ing it would be pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive to re­store home de­liv­ery, the Lib­er­als have ap­proved an un­fair, half-baked scheme that serves the in­ter­ests of no one but those few who will con­tinue get­ting home de­liv­ery, the postal work­ers who will pro­vide it, and the Lib­er­als.

Mean­while, the Lib­er­als have raised the to­tally im­prac­ti­cal pos­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing home de­liv­ery to peo­ple with mo­bil­ity is­sues in ar­eas served by com­mu­nity mail boxes. Don’t hold your breath for this.

Whether Cana­dian tax­pay­ers love or loath this Lib­eral non­so­lu­tion, they’ll have to sub­si­dize it in com­ing years, years in which Canada Post will also grap­ple with $6 bil­lion in un­funded pen­sion li­a­bil­i­ties for its re­tirees.

Too bad we can’t mark this daft Lib­eral plan with “re­turn to sender.”

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