TRURO - Door-to-door mail delivery is being eliminated in all urban centres across the country, Canada Post announced Wednesday.
© HARRY SULLIVAN - TRURO DAILY NEWS
oor-to-door mail carriers, such as Derek Coombes, are slated to be eliminated through changes being implemented by Canada Post over the next five years.
And that will not only lead to local job losses but will leave seniors and other shut-ins at a distinct disadvantage, a union official said.
"They're cutting delivery - what about people with disabilities?" said Bobbi Jo Mattinson, president of CUPW Truro Local 132.
"What about the seniors, how are they supposed to obtain their mail? Some people can barely make it out the door some days to retrieve their mail, especially in the cold weather."
In a news release posted on Wednesday outlining a five-point action plan to streamline services and reduce costs, Canada Post announced that over the next five years, the one-third of Canadian households that receive their mail at their door will be converted to community mailbox delivery.
"This change will provide significant savings to Canada Post and will have no impact on the two-thirds of Canadian households that already receive their mail and parcels through community mailboxes, grouped or lobby mailboxes or rural mailboxes," the unattributed release said.
The restructuring is to result in an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 job losses over the five-year period. Canada Post said most of those positions will be eliminated through attrition and that nearly 15,000 workers are expected to leave the company or retire with the same time frame.
In Truro, 22 fulltime carriers are currently employed with Canada Post, along with two part-time workers and three unassigned (relief carriers displaced through other cuts), Mattinson said.
But she said it is too early to know what the overall local labour impact will be.
"I'd be a fool to say we're not going to lose jobs," she said. "How many, we don't know."
And many workers now are questioning whether they will last long enough to qualify for retirement benefits, she said.
"I am entitled to retire in 2032. Do I think I am going to make it to 2032? No."
With its current labour costs, Canada Post said it has a much higher cost structure than its competitors in the private sector, a factor that "is simply not sustainable" and it therefore will continue to bring the cost of labour in line through attrition and collective bargaining over time.
An April 2013 Conference Board of Canada study projected a financial loss of close to $1 billion by 2020, Canada Post said, unless fundamental changes are made to its business model.
Conversely, the corporation said, once its five-point plan is fully implemented, four of the five initiatives are expected to generate financial benefits with an estimated combined worth of $700 million to $900 million per year. And that is before "significant" anticipated annual savings in labour costs and pension restructuring are factored in, because those elements have yet to be addressed through future rounds of collective bargaining.
Mattinson, however, said other more creative solutions should be tried before such traditional services as door-to-door delivery is cut.
"We are planning on fighting back," she said. "Canadians deserve a better public postal service and expanded services."
And one area where she believes substantial cuts could occur is through the high salaries and bonuses paid to top Canada Post executives.
"We think they need to start cutting from the top, not from the bottom. We're the ones that provide the service, we're the ones that deliver the mail."
Canada Post spokesperson Anik Losier said 3.8 million addresses are now served by community mailboxes and efforts will be made to address specific mobility issues and other concerns related to the restructuring.
"We will be creative, we will be sensitive to people's needs," she said. "But at the end of the day we needed to make some major changes and just evolve to meet Canadians' needs without becoming a burden on their taxes."
Another change outlined in Canada Post's five-point plan will see the introduction of a new tiered pricing structure for letter mail posted within Canada.
Once implemented, people who buy stamps in booklets or coils will pay 85 cents per stamp, with discounts for customers that use the mail most. The minority of consumers who purchase stamps one at a time, which represents an estimated two per cent of stamp purchases, will pay $1 per stamp. Canada Post said the average Canadian household purchases fewer than two stamps per month.
Stamp price changes will take effect March 31.