Monday, January 27, 2014

Canada Post Cancels Home Delivery? Maybe Not...

Last month, Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt announced that Canada Post will be ceasing all door to door deliveries of mail.  The operations are to be suspended over a 5 year span, as community mailboxes are erected throughout the country.

Conveniently, Ms. Raitt made said announcement days after Parliament ended for the Christmas session, effectively ending any form of debate on the issue.  I suspect, the announcement was also made as close to Christmas as possible, to minimize media coverage as well.  However, it seems as though the Conservative Government under estimated the passion of Canadians for the service.

Deepak Chopra: Mail Scrooge?

Numerous MP's returned to the Parliament for an emergency session, and simultaneously hauled in Deepak Chopra, the CEO of Canada Post to explain his rational for why ending home delivery was necessary.

Chopra came up with a series of fantastic answers to the MP's grilling session.  At one point, he suggested that the feedback he had been receiving from Canadians was positive, and that Canadian seniors have told him they welcome the opportunity for more fresh air and exercise by walking a few blocks each day to retrieve their mail. 

Chopra and Raitt indicated that the end of mail delivery to our doors was necessary, as Canada Post is facing a $100 million deficit for the year, and the projections for the next five years look even worse.  Not surprisingly, Chopra dodged a series of questions in which he was asked point blank if he received a bonus in the last year, and exactly how much his bonus was.  The closest he would get to providing an answer, was to say that his salary is "a matter of public record".

Well I agree!  His salary SHOULD be a matter of public record.  However, it is not.  Most Canadians would never have known that Chopra's salary is nearly $500,000 a year, or that his bonus was paid out at 33% for an additional sum of close to $200,000 unless NDP MP Paul Dewar hadn't stated so during this parliamentary committee meeting.  In fact, in 2012, the Toronto Sun filed an access to information request for a number of bonus payouts to Canada post employees over the previous four years.  They also asked for a breakdown of how much was paid out to 23 members of the executive committee.  All of the individual payment numbers were refused based on "issues of privacy".  What they DID find out was that 7,402 Canada Post employees were paid some sort of bonus during the time period, including all 23 members of the executive board.  Clearly his salary and bonus is not a matter of public record.  It should be noted that Canada Post posted a net loss before taxes of $327 million in 2012.  A significant portion of which came because of a 25 day strike by postal workers.

I find it rather objectionable that anyone received a bonus when the company is bleeding money.  While good personal performance should be rewarded, it should not be done so when the company is hemorrhaging money.

A number of ways Canada Post could increase revenues was suggested by the parliamentary committee, including offering banking services at its branches in remote locations, or small towns where regular bank branches do not exist.  A wise suggestion.  The Swiss Postal service implemented this service several years ago to great success.

While the Conservative Government seems intent on ramming through the end of mail delivery as we know it (the first communities to lose this service are scheduled to be announced this summer), there may be some hope after all.

Thomas Mulcair: Defender of the Post

Thomas Mulcair, leader of the NDP, and Olivia Chow, Transportation Critic are set to introduce a motion in the house tomorrow declaring home mail delivery an invaluable service to Canadians.  They will force a vote on the matter, which should be an interesting political stone to throw.  An election will be held next year.  Forcing MPs to effectively vote for or against mail delivery will no doubt come to haunt some MPs who find themselves in tight electoral races in their own districts.  And you can bet, the NDP will make it very public come campaigning time which Conservatives voted to kill off their constituents delivery.  

It will all play out in the Commons tomorrow, and it should be interesting to see if Stephen Harper cracks the party whip, or if he lets MPs vote on their own.  I would suspect that independent voting will mean that the NDP motion will pass, which will likely see the plan of killing mail delivery dead on the floor.  If the whip is cracked... well... I guess we will see who will survive re-election.

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