Many countries have taken the opportunity to privatize postal services to help out their corporate friends. Among the prime functions of modern governments is to find new sources of profits for capital. First moves involved changing the laws that used to give national postal services monopolies over postal services. Private corporations were allowed into parcel delivery etc. services, that could bring a profit while often leaving uneconomical services such as regular mail delivery to isolated and rural areas to the national postal service. This forced national services such as Canada Post into an unfair competition in which its competitors were able to provide services in a growth area in high volume settings whereas Canada Post also had to provide first class mail service to remote areas with low volume and no profits. Things have now “progressed” to the point where former government postal services have been wholly privatized in many countries. In Canada this has yet to happen but many public post offices are now privatized and located in shopping centers among other locations,
Expensive services such as home delivery have also been in the process of being phased out. However, on October 26 after the Liberals were elected, Canada Post put the transition to community mailboxes from home delivery on hold. Canada Post said it will work collaboratively with the new Liberal government to decide the best way to move forward. The mailboxes have been unpopular, not just with those who have lost delivery services but often with local authorities as Canada Post has installed boxes often without proper consultation about the locations. The Liberal platform promised it would ensure, “high quality service at a reasonable price to Canadians, no matter where they live.” Only 32 percent of Canadian households still get home delivery service.
Canada Post spokesperson Arick Losier said: Efforts are now underway to place the comprehensive program on hold in an orderly fashion.” Losier said in the release: “This involves roughly 460,000 addresses across the country which are currently in the process to be converted to community mailboxes.” As has been happening for some time traditional mail volumes are declining in the third quarter by 5.5 percent in the third quarter but parcel volumes are rising and Canada Post parcel business will do very well in the last quarter during the Xmas season.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers(CUPW) notes that if one considers the entire Canada Post group of companies that includes not just Canada Post, but Purolator Holdings, SCI Group, and Innovapost Inc., they actually made a profit in the third quarter of $10 million. CUPW thinks Canada Post officials want to stress the loss of Canada Post alone in order to justify cuts to services.
CUPW long ago suggested Canada Post should consider re-introducing postal saving banks at post offices. Canada Post had a postal bank until 1968. In 2006 Japan’s postal bank was the world’s largest savings bank with US $1.7 trillion in deposits. Israel’s post offices offer bill payments, savings and checking accounts, and foreign exchange services at all its post offices. China also has a huge chain of postal savings outlets.
The union claims these services would generate much-needed income for Canada Post and would be particularly beneficial in rural or low income areas not well served by the existing banking system. It will be interesting to see if the Liberal government will even consider this idea. The NDP should be pressing the Liberals to implement such an idea.