Opinion Column

THE DUEL

Savings to taxpayers outweighs the minor inconvenience to citizens 0

Brent Stafford

By Brent Stafford, The Duel

Canada's postal service will phase out urban home delivery within five years and hike the cost of postage stamps to try to stem soaring losses. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Canada's postal service will phase out urban home delivery within five years and hike the cost of postage stamps to try to stem soaring losses. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on the proposed Reform Act was Laila with 60%.

This week’s topic:

Is it worth the cost to save home mail delivery in Canada?

The news this past week that Canada Post is phasing out the last vestiges of door-to-door home delivery should come as no surprise to Canadians. For most of us, the concept of home delivery conjures up nothing more than nostalgic feelings of simpler times. About two-thirds of all Canadians — approximately 10 million homes — already receive their mail in community, apartment lobby or rural mailboxes, and will be unaffected by the change. Over the next five years, Canadians currently receiving mail at their door — approximately five million homes — will be transitioned to community mailboxes, saving the corporation and taxpayers nearly $500 million annually. This is a significant savings and it’s not worth the cost to save home delivery in Canada.

Read Laila Yuile's column

It’s been clear for some time the writing has been on the wall for paper-based communications — digital delivery has all but taken over. The historic transformation from paper to digital is borne out in the dramatic decline in mail volume handled by Canada Post. From 2008 to 2012, the amount of mail delivered to each address in Canada dropped by 23.6%. As Canada Post warns in its 2012 annual report, “nobody knows how far or how fast volumes will drop” and certainly nobody is expecting volumes to rebound. Faced with declining volumes and higher costs, Canada Post needed to make this change.

What’s the impact you might ask? There will be a reduction in letter carriers of between 6,000 to 8,000 positions, however Canada Post expects to absorb those job losses through retirement and attrition over the next five years. Also, residents in older neighbourhoods will lose the personal touch of hand-delivered mail. Some will indeed be seniors who will now be required to go to a community mailbox instead of the front door to grab their mail. I suspect and hope the most frail and vulnerable already have the help they need to accomplish this task.

Simply, the current system is the most costly delivery system and is a relic we no longer need or can afford. The annual cost to deliver directly to people’s homes is an average of $286 per address. Compare that to $179 for rural, $127 for apartment lobbies and $108 for community mailboxes. Delivering to a community mailbox is 62% cheaper and it’s the method Canada Post will be transitioning its remaining customers to. The change makes financial sense.

Brent Stafford is a veteran television news-documentary producer and marketing specialist. You can watch his show at ShakyPolitics.com.

 

 

 

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