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Council postpones Canada Post discussion, hears union representative

Tuesday, January 21, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

At its regular meeting Monday, City Council chose to postpone discussion of changes in services announced by Canada Post in December (and their effect on Sault Ste. Marie) to Council’s February 3 meeting.

The discussion planned for Monday was intended to gather input from speakers on both sides of the Canada Post issue, but it was noted by Ward Three City Councillor Brian Watkins not all parties were present and that more time was needed to bring them all together for another meeting two weeks from now.  

However, some local Canada Post employees were present at Council chambers Monday, and Council allowed Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Central Region Grievance Officer Peter Denley (a Sault native who now works in Ottawa, who travelled from the capital to attend Council’s Monday meeting) to make a speech protesting Canada Post’s plans.   

A resolution put forward by City Councillors Terry Sheehan and Joe Krmpotich and passed at Council's January 6 meeting urged Canada Post to reverse its decision to slash thousands of jobs nationwide, its plan to eliminate urban home mail delivery and replace that long-cherished service with community mailboxes across the board, and its plan to jack up the price of postage stamps.

The two Councillors have stated their concern over impending local job losses at Canada Post, the impact of community mailboxes on seniors and those with disabilities, and the impact of increased postal rates on cash-strapped individuals and families, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Denley ripped into Canada Post and a Conference Board of Canada report released in April 2013 which outlined financial challenges facing the corporation.

He also criticized the governing Conservatives for allowing Canada Post to make its announcement shortly before Parliament adjourned for the holiday season. 

The moves announced by Canada Post in December, Denley told Council, were “unnecessary.”

Denley said the corporation’s December decision was made without sufficient public input (contrary to Canada Post’s claim that it conducted “extensive” public consultations).

The corporation held consultations in 46 communities. 

Canada Post states drastic changes are necessary in the face of financial losses, due to a huge increase in online communication and an accompanying decline in the amount of regular mail Canada Post delivers.   

Canada Post’s losses were reported to be $109 million for the third quarter of 2013.

Canada Post says if the changes are not implemented, it could lose $1 billion by 2020.

The corporation expects to save $500 million through nationwide establishment of community mailboxes over the next five years, and $700 million to $900 million per year as a result of all of its changes, such as a whopping cut of 6,000 to 8,000 jobs and an increase in stamp prices, with a view to achieving financial stability by 2019.

Denley plainly disputed the corporation’s claims of financial losses, stating Canada Post’s operations have, in fact, been profitable. 

Denley claimed: “They are blaming it all on losses due to a lockout in 2011…(because of that) they claim the sky is falling.”

Denley acknowledged there has indeed been a decline in the volume of regular mail Canada Post handles, “but not as great as they say.”

The CUPW representative questioned why the corporation has “jumped the gun” in its decision, and chose not to wait for a review of Canada Post services that is scheduled to be held this year.

Denley dumped on the Conference Board of Canada’s report as being short sighted, in that it paid very little attention to the possibility of Canada Post introducing new revenue-generating financial services for its customers, which is something postal services in countries like Switzerland and Italy have done successfully.

He also encouraged the beefing up of Canada Post’s parcel delivery service.

“There’s a way out of this, other than a poor choice in cuts.”   

Denley also said CUPW has heard complaints from many seniors, upset with the challenges community mailboxes will pose for them, as well as anger over a comment from Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra suggesting many seniors would consider a walk to a community mailbox as good exercise.   

Denley said there remains a clear need in Sault Ste. Marie for traditional home mail delivery, stating there are over 24,000 “points of delivery” in the community.

Over 7,000 Sault residents (such as those who live in apartments) receive centralized mail service. 

2.2 percent of Canada Post's Sault Ste. Marie customers currently collect their mail from community mailboxes (CMBs), Denley said.

Under Canada Post’s plan, Denley said, there would be close to 2,000 CMBs erected in Sault Ste. Marie.

Denley said a debate will arise in the community as to where they should be located.

The CUPW representative said that will result in a great deal of NIMFY (Not In My Front Yard) discussion among residents.

“There’s nothing wrong with creating new jobs in sectors like renewable energy, but let’s keep the good paying postal jobs we have,” Denley told Council.

Locally, Canada Post has about 80 letter carriers and about 25 operations employees.

 

Comments
25
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
David Poluck 1/21/2014 7:29:58 AM Report

I found the information brought forward last night by Peter Denley shed more light on the goings on at Canada Post.

Personally I would like to see Bryan Hayes at the next council meeting to give an official government report to the constituants
Meow 1/21/2014 7:46:38 AM Report

I agree with David. Brian Hayes should have been at Council last night. I know he is in the City because my friend is going to a breakfast at the Chamber where he is the invited speaker.
Tag33&1/3rd 1/21/2014 8:28:49 AM Report

Ridiculous the fact if we want to mail a simple birthday card to somebody in the Sault -- it has to go to Toronto first to get sorted! Isn't that a waste of $?
And time?
buddyjewel 1/21/2014 9:16:36 AM Report

What is council going to do about it? Council is powerless in preventing any corporation of that size in implementing whatever measures they deem fit. I give you the elimination of the Agawa Snow Train as one of those examples.
It's all about the bottom line!
justsomeguy 1/21/2014 9:19:28 AM Report

@Tag33&1/3rd - after comparing the cost of fuel to the projected cost of postage, it may be cheaper to drive the card to them ourselves.
justsomeguy 1/21/2014 9:21:26 AM Report

Not to mention at least the card will get to the correct address the first time. Each week I deliver 1-2 letters myself because they were delivered to the wrong street. I wonder how many of my letters/cards never made it to the intended recipient.
Number One Son 1/21/2014 9:30:48 AM Report

Although a strong unionist at Canada Post my working life, to be objective I have to comment on the statistics provided by Peter Denley.

CMB,or Community Mail Box, is a specific acronym to this particular item. To say that only 2.2% of Sault Ste. Marie receives their mail in this way is a misrepresentation of the facts. The group site delivery proposed by Canada Post would include current sites made up of CMB sites, Group Mail Box sites (those ugly green boxes), and apartment panel boxes, ... not to mention existing Post Office boxes at the main post office and retail outlets.

The 24,000 points of call stated include individual apartments, .... so this statement is very misleading. When you subtract the current 7000 current users of this group delivery service,businesses included in the 24,000 number (many of which have Post Office boxes), current CMB site customers, and Rural Route customers, .... the percentage of people affected is closer to 50% to 60%. Still a large number, but not the skewed number presented by the union.

There will not be 2000 CMB sites developed. Each CMB unit is capable of serving 12 customers, and they are often installed in three to nine units to an installation. Included in each installation are two large boxes to hold larger parcels for customers that won't fit into their regular box. There is also a portion of the unit designated for the deposit of out-going mail.

The CMB units are not unsightly. They are solidly built and anchored far better than the ugly green boxes that vandals love to turn upside down. Once installed, Canada Post is responsible for snow removal and maintenance at CMB sites.

Canada Post is facing an ugly situation, and it is called their employee pension plan. The potential deficit of the plan will sink Canada Post. Canada Post doesn't want to admit it because the public with think they are looking for a handout to pay off retirees. The union doesn't want to admit it because they will lose the faith and trust of its members.

The major point I agree with from the union's standpoint is that Canada Post is the author of this mess. Had they been more fiscally responsible in the "gravy" years, they would not be where they are today. If they are going to go forward with this plan, Deepak Chopra (Canada Post CEO) needs to give back his recent performance bonus, and resign for lying to the public.

The breaking of a union and putting hard working Canadians out of work is not the solution.
My Thoughts 1/21/2014 9:32:16 AM Report

As with most company's, they won't trim the "fat" from the top down. No.....cut the "actual workers".
And it is ridiculous to send local mail from all locals to Toronto for sorting then shipping back. Cost effective....I think not!
Also, have they not looked at the US postal system.............make affordable parcel shipping and go for volume.
Our voices need to be heard, kutos to SSM City council for taking a stand!
justsomeguy 1/21/2014 9:39:37 AM Report

@my thoughts - I don't think we should be looking at the US Post model - they've been losing money since their inception.
Lerard 1/21/2014 10:07:21 AM Report

Deepak Chopra makes $497,100 annually at Canada Post and also has received performance bonuses. I wonder what his pension looks like? Cheap shot at the top, but this corporate structure is killing the public service. Nobody is entitled to that kind of salary... period.
Nunavut 1/21/2014 10:28:32 AM Report

One has to ask , what will Canada Post pay out in land purchase fees for a thousand or more 10 foot x 20 ft sections of land to house these boxes. Are the expecting the city to just give them the sidewalk land? Are they expecting to expropriate any private land? How much does it cost to do the snow removal and maintenance on all these locations. I am starting to think this will be like the cutting at Northland Rail that was supposed to save taxpayers millions but now research is showing it will cost taxpayers more to cut the service and replace with other means.
dust2 1/21/2014 10:57:58 AM Report

Nobody is entitled to a 500K salary? Really? Just because you couldn't work hard and earn a good wage doesn't mean others shouldn't be entitled to it.

Mail is going the way of the dodo bird. People in their 20s get their bank statements and bills online, personally I receive almost no mail unless it's from the government (and only a matter before they email me). It's stupid to provide a service that isn't needed by most. Yes old people will struggle to get their mail, but they struggle to get groceries or put in a new TV. No mail is that time sensitive to where it's needed to be delivered to the door, everyday.
Gumby54 1/21/2014 11:32:59 AM Report

@dust2
You make valid points but the reference to OLD People is a bit misleading. There are more of us OLD People using FB, email,Online banking and Skype than people might think. The Old People comment is always thrown out there as a red herring. If I get any mail in my box it is usually junk; for that which isn't, I usually contact the sender and ask for emailed (pdf) versions. This reduces my clutter and allows me to electronically file and retreive my information. Of course it is an inconvenience for those that have current home delivery. Change is hard to take no matter what it is. Remember those days when we swore up and down that we would never ever pay to watch TV?
dust2 1/21/2014 11:38:53 AM Report

@Gumby54

fair point, like you said even the old people are receiving online bills. all the more reason a service like everyday door-to-door mail should end.

people here complain about their tax dollars being wasted all the time, but can't understand why everyday door-to-door mail service isn't necessary. this town wants to have their cake and eat it too.
Gumby54 1/21/2014 11:42:17 AM Report

As I said on a previous blog

Either they adjust by what ever means, or they go Bankrupt. As a taxpayer, I am not willing to pay ever more taxes to keep them afloat. Chose a niche in the letter/parcel market where they can make money or get out of the business.
dust2 1/21/2014 11:58:41 AM Report

@Gumby54

too bad everyone else doesn't share the same opinion :[
thera 1/21/2014 5:55:41 PM Report

@ Gumby54:

"As a taxpayer, I am not willing to pay ever more taxes to keep them afloat"

How many times must I say this: Taxpayers DON'T fund Canada Post. Canada Post PAYS the government every year, not the other way around. They also pay them dividends. Get it through your thick skull!
So, let me ask you people this: what about the poor people who can't afford a computer and/or internet? I guess they are out of luck, eh? But really, who cares about them, right?
Gumby54 1/21/2014 7:12:30 PM Report

@thera
I am a taxpayer and it will be me and anyone else who wished to send a letter that now pay the additional cost up to $1 per letter - this is in essence a tax. So YES it is the taxpayer who will foot the bill.
Those who do not have the internet nor a computer are at no more disadvantage than they are now. Mail will still be delivered, only not to the hot little hands. They will need to walk a short distance to get it.
thera 1/21/2014 8:11:15 PM Report

@ Gumby54:
It is not a tax, it's a service. Why would you think you get to have a service and not pay for it? By this logic, electricity should be free too, right? That's a service, government run. Or name any service, why pay for any of it? Damn taxes everywhere, unbelievable. Give your head a shake.
FYI, it was mismanagement that has landed them in their situation. They are spinning it to convince people it's all the economy and technology that is to blame. Gotta love that shrinking middle class and people like you helping the government do it in plain sight. Shame.
littlejoe 1/21/2014 9:56:28 PM Report



DON'T WASTE TIME THE GOVERMENT OF CANADA
WILL NOT HEAR A THING COUNCIL HAS TO SAY
NOR WILL THEY CARE.

COUNCIL CONCENTRATE ON WHAT CAN BE DONE
AND COULD BE DONE.

OLD CHINESE SAYING
"IF THINGS DON'T CHANGE THEY WILL STAY THE SAME'
littlejoe 1/21/2014 9:58:19 PM Report



DON'T WASTE TIME THE GOVERMENT OF CANADA
WILL NOT HEAR A THING COUNCIL HAS TO SAY
NOR WILL THEY CARE.

COUNCIL CONCENTRATE ON WHAT IS POSSIBLE.

DON'T WASTE TIME.

OLD CHINESE SAYING
"IF THINGS DON'T CHANGE THEY WILL STAY THE SAME'
thera 1/22/2014 1:28:41 PM Report

Littlejoe:

Really nice, good message to send to our children not to stand up for what we believe in. An especially great message when it comes to standing up to the government. It's a free country and a democracy - the government is there to do what WE want. It's time to let them know how some of us feel.
If you have nothing constructive to say, next time, just don't post. No one cares about your prediction/opinion.
pdiddly 1/22/2014 5:56:26 PM Report

Sorry Number One Son but the numbers you quoted and your analysis are inaccurate. 74% of the addresses in the SSM area serviced by letter carriers get "to the door" delivery.Over 33% percent get delivery to a centralized delivery point such as apartment building panels and mail rooms. Only 2.2% or about 850 homes are on CMB delivery. That's right from the restructure reports. The 24,000 does not include centralized delivery.

It was clearly stated that this would involve the installation of over 2000 CMB's. A CMB is a Community Mailbox which is one unit and they'll need that many. Even if they're combined at fewer sites,there's still that many out there.

As for the other comments, at the end of the day the rate of decline of lettermail is not so great as to justify this drastic,biased and poorly considered response...it's hitting a fly with a sledge hammer.
pdiddly 1/22/2014 6:14:20 PM Report

On a "going concern" basis the pension plan is actually in a surplus, which means it can easily meet it's obligations as long as the plan is active. On a "solvency basis" it's in a deficit.
What solvency basis means is that if Canada Post closed (highly likely) and the pension plan participants had to be paid off (through the purchase of annuities for each one) to fulfil the plan's obligation they would be $5.6 billion short. The only reason for this is the interest rates for long term bonds is very low so actuaries have to assume that will continue.
However, this trend seems to be reversing as the US is stopping "quantitative easing" and their long term rate just rose and Canada will have to follow. So, if interest rates climb just 2.5 percent the solvency ratio deficit will vanish-it's a paper calculation, not a reflection of the money in the plan. It can turn around very quickly as evidenced by the fact the plan's solvency ratio was in a surplus in 2008.
The deal CPC struck with the government actually makes the situation worse as they will continue making regular payments but not payments to address the solvency ratio.
pdiddly 1/22/2014 7:36:05 PM Report

Oops...meant "highly unlikely" in terms of CPC closing in post above.
Comments
25
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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