One of Canada’s Post’s fleet of mail trucks. Instead of our posties collecting the pre-sorted mail for their routes from the secure corner boxes (largely a thing of the past), they now sort their own mail in their mini trucks and do all sorts of other tasks once done by specialized help. If you peer in the passenger side of one of these trucks, often you can see high priority mail just sitting there unattended, as the postie walks his/her route. Canada Post leaves the postie few options. Ordinary posties also often are tasked these days with clearing corner post boxes, once a separate job, but now being eliminated where possible to improve the bottom line at the expense of having a real postal service.
Canada Post is a huge organization. According to Wikipedia: “Canada Post provided service to 15.7 million addresses and delivered more than 9 billion items in 2014 and consolidated revenue from operations reached $7.98 billion.” Ordinary citizens (who own the outfit and pay its 65,000 of employees very generously) and innumerable small businesses, however, continue to be punished daily by Canada Post management and labour. So much for the “service” part of the Canada Post slogan that heads this item, right. With CANAV Books, for example, the poor service has not improved since we began campaigning years ago — writing letters to Canada Post in Ottawa, discussing on the phone with its representatives, blogging, etc. Lately, things are worse than ever — there’s no consistency even to the simple process of delivering a letter to someone’s house.
For one thing, there are the rates. Sadly, nothing much can be done about Canada’s exorbitant postal rates and it’s the same picture almost anywhere in the world. These rates have driven many small mail order operators out of the picture. CANAV Books barely holds on. It’s tough to sell a $30 book, when the cheapest postal rate to the West Coast is in the $20 range. Canada Post, sad to say, doesn’t worry about which small company it drives out of business next. This goes back to whenever it was that Canada Post decided that postal service no longer was a vital, national, public right, but a new government “profit centre”. So … if a service doesn’t make money, reduce or eliminate it as necessary.
Canada Post’s ivory tower people live in their comfy dreamland, while CUPW (another ivory tower outfit) plans new ways to undermine its postal bosses up there at 2701 Riverside Drive, Ottawa. Who are we in the process? Nothing much more than suckers stuck in the middle. We 36,000,000 owners of Canada Post just keep getting all the crap in ever more smelly ways.
Through it all, CANAV Books somehow has survived. We started with our best selling book, The Avro CF-100, in 1981, right in the jaws of an ugly CUPW strike, so all CANAV could do was wait for this particular horror story to settle. The only hope of a solution was that Canadians still could ship to the US and overseas (rates were affordable the those times) by driving their mail across the border to be handled by US Post. To serve my good customers, I made such trips in 1981 and during subsequent postal strikes.
USA and offshore business today
Once a vital part of CANAV operations, 99% of the world no longer is a market for our books. This is solely due to postal rates. To ship a single copy from the “Aviation in Canada” series anywhere in the European Union, for example, doubles the sticker price of the book. The most avid EU aviation bibliophile these days throws up his hands in despair. It’s a done deal … thanks, Canada Post. All the way down the line, this sad story can be felt through ever-smaller print runs and fewer titles gestating. Paper makers, ink and glue suppliers, printers and binders, truckers, warehousers and many others gradually feel the pinch. Bottom line … today’s postal rates are retrogressive.
Door to Door Delivery
Back in 2009 I still was praising Canada Post for its door-to-door delivery. Certainly in the M4E postal code, that no longer is the case and, judging by the uproar in other postal codes across Canada, M4E is no aberration. Over the past two to three years service has deteriorated to the “pitiful” level, what with every neighbour in M4E regularly receiving other people’s mail. Neighbours regularly bring CANAV mail to my door, and these thoughtful citizens aren’t exactly receiving CUPW benefits. Neither are they obliged to re-direct wrongly delivered mail (some do not, so we all lose valuable letters, etc. – talk about the unthinkable). Last month I did not get my usual bank statements and other important banking mail that always comes in the same week. Where is it? Last week I received a neighbour’s Census papers. Great, eh, since Census Canada threatens the citizenry with $500 fines and/or jail time, should someone not file a census report on time. Guaranteed, other Canadians did not receive their census paperwork on account of Canada Post.
Once, when I discussed mail delivery foul-ups with a Canada Post employee I was told: “Get to love it. This is Canada Post’s new “Get to Know Your Neighbours Program”. Very funny, Mr. $500,000-a-year Canada Post potentate CEO, Deepak Chopra. More recently, when I nicely enquired of a letter carrier about the frequent mis-delivery of mail in M4E, the answer was, “It’s those guys down at the sortation plant. They give us the wrong mail or it’s in the wrong order”. What?! Isn’t it the letter carrier’s actual DUTY to actually read the address on each piece of mail? Or is this (along, perhaps, with literacy) no longer a job requirement at Canada Post?
Here’s the latest little curve ball. Recently my letter carrier (these folks now change like the weather, gone is the letter carrier who held a route for years and became a beloved community member) has decided not to use the mail slot in my door. For 46 years letter carriers have understood the basic function of the mail-slot-in-the-door. Now, CANAV’s mail some days simply is dropped on the open porch floor (see above unstaged photo). With this new glitch I now have to hope that I can catch all my cheques, orders, legal and government documents, letters from grand kids, etc., before they blow away.
This spring Canada Post is once again re-thinking door-to-door delivery. As if that wasn’t bound to happen, following the corporation’s disastrous community mailbox program. The PM promised some action during his election campaign, so good on him. On May 5 the Winnipeg Free Press ran this headline, “Door-to-door delivery up for debate as Liberals order review of Canada Post”. The item begins, “Canadians could once again find mail at their doors after what the government says will be a sweeping review of every business line at Canada Post …”
This can’t hurt, considering how the previous government had zero interest, except to support Canada Post’s profit vs service fixation. It watched unconcerned as Canada Post ran down in the general direction of Somalia standards (no mail delivery there for 23 years). Now, according to the Free Press, change is in the wind. Minister Judy Foote explains, “We need to hear from Canadians what it is they need and Canadians are responsible” Wow, eh!
Well, Minister Foote, you are hearing from this Canadian. Feel free to drop by any time for a chitchat about Canada Post and how vital it still is for any country that’s going anywhere, e.g., to the key building blocks that spell civilization – education, healthcare, postal service, national defence, transportation infrastructure, etc. You just cannot remove one of these essentials and still have a strong, healthy society.
One of my suggestions last year to Canada Post was that it might seriously take a look at the mission statement of the Bangladeshi Post Office. Bangladesh (at least on paper) seems to have an action plan for postal service. Here’s an excerpt that should really make you hang your heads at Canada Post: “Bangladesh Post office is a government-owned department dedicated to provide a wide range of postal products and public services. It is the premier national postal communication service holding together a vast country with a large population. Bangladesh Post Office is committed to provide a speedy, reliable and regular service to the people of all walks of life at a reasonable cost.”
What do you think, Minister Foote? Mightn’t this work for Canada, too? It sure as heck used to “back in the day”, when few countries had a postal service as effective as Canada’s, and when a slogan such as “We Service Canadians with Pride and Passion” actually would have rung true.