Another vow Trudeau should break
Justin Trudeau has been hammered in the court of public opinion for breaking his election promise to change how Canadians vote.
The prime minister should be ready to be pummeled again and break his rash campaign vow to stop phasing out door-to-door mail delivery.
His government will decide this spring whether to support Canada Post’s desperate business survival plan or bow to a Commons committee that recommends restoring home delivery — but only to those who lost it in the year before the 2015 election.
Whatever his verdict, we call on him to justify it with fact-based evidence, to show a sustainable way for Canada Post to conduct its operations and to be guided by good policy instead of crass politics.
That Canada Post has made an excellent case for replacing home delivery with community mailboxes should surprise no one who has watched new digital technologies disrupt the world.
Since 2006 — thanks largely to email and other electronic options for communicating — Canada Post’s volume of letter delivery has dropped by 32 per cent. That’s a lot less revenue. According to its mandate, Canada Post is supposed to be able to fund the services it provides without taxpayer subsidies. Not surprisingly, Canada Post determined the only way it could do this was to replace home delivery with community mail boxes.
Last fall, a federal task force endorsed Canada Post’s plan. But the Liberal-dominated Commons committee later concluded Canada Post should stop phasing out home delivery and restore it to 350,000 addresses that lost it in the year before Trudeau came to power. However, far more households — 480,000 — were deprived of that very service in the year before and would not get it back. Meanwhile, it has been largely uncontested policy since the late 1980s to require new homes and subdivisions to accept those community mail boxes. When Canada Post began its latest round of installing community mail boxes, only a third of Canadians still received door-to-door delivery.
If Trudeau believes home mail delivery should be a universal social service in Canada, something every household has a right to expect, he should restore home delivery to all who lost it in recent years and extend it to those who lack the service today.
If those with disabilities, the infirm and the elderly who lost home delivery just prior to the last election must have it restored, it is only fair that it be provided to all the people with disabilities, infirm and elderly in this country who currently struggle to reach a community mail box.
In addition, Trudeau must show how Canada Post would pay for the restoration of home delivery. The corporation estimates it can save up to $400 million a year with its plan. If Trudeau sticks with home delivery, for some lucky people at least, how will he keep Canada Post from running the deficits it is forbidden to incur?
Or is he willing to change the law and have taxpayers subsidize a service fewer of them use every day and when the needs of health care, public education, infrastructure and our First Nations remain unmet?