OTTAWA – The federal government will decide by spring whether to restore door-to-door mail delivery to those who lost it in the last year, the federal public service minister said Thursday to the union that represents postal workers.
Judy Foote made the commitment in a meeting with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers that was originally scheduled as part of the minister’s continuing review of the postal service’s mandate and structure.
“Today’s meeting with representatives of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was another opportunity to hear directly from partners on the future of Canada Post,” Foote said in a statement after the half-hour session.
“I will be announcing a new plan (for Canada Post) this spring.”
CUPW representatives urged Foote to act on a Commons committee report released in December.
Among its many recommendations, the committee’s report called on the Liberal government to reinstate door-to-door delivery in those parts of the country where service was converted to community mailboxes after August 2015.
It also urged the government to maintain a freeze on the installation of the curbside mail boxes and said Canada Post should raise delivery rates.
The minister didn’t commit to adopt any of the committee’s recommendations, CUPW national president Mike Palecek acknowledged as he left the meeting.
But he voiced optimism that the minister would make what he called “the right choice.”
“The government committee’s report recommends restoring delivery to most of the people who lost it,” Palecek noted.
“There’s a big difference between a government report and government action,” he acknowledged.
“That’s what we’re waiting on, to see if this government is going to live up to the promises that many Liberal MPs made out on the campaign trail.”
The Liberals promised during the 2015 election campaign to end the conversions of door-to-door service to community boxes, but didn’t commit to restoring services retroactively.
Nearly 900,000 Canadian households had been converted by the time Canada Post froze the program after the Liberals won the election.
CUPW estimates it would cost about $50 million to restore services to those people and prevent the post office from cutting more postal carrier jobs. Palecek argued there would be no direct cost to taxpayers as a result because Canada Post is self-sustaining.
Canada Post had no comment following Thursday’s meeting, but has said previously that moving to community mailboxes would reduce the Crown corporation’s costs as it struggles with declining letter mail revenues. The agency said that it had already realized $80 million in savings in 2015 through mailbox conversions.
The corporation argued that it could save up to $450 million annually by moving five million addresses to community mailboxes. The committee said Canada Post provided “weak” financial information to support the estimate.
CUPW has deemed the cost-cutting measures are too drastic, and pointed out the postal service has seen its parcel delivery service soar as Canadians turn more frequently to online shopping.
Canada Post was expected to reveal new parcel service revenue numbers as early as next week for deliveries over the busy holiday season that a spokesman suggested could be record breaking.