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Federal Politics

Busted: Ten Myths about the Canada Post Cuts

By special delivery, facts that debunk bogus reasons for worse service at higher costs.

David Bush and Doug Nesbitt 5 Feb

Doug Nesbitt and David Bush wrote this for the Support Postal Workers website.

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It's all about privatizing her job and the system Canadian taxpayers built.

Myth #1: Canada Post service cuts and cost increases are necessary.

Fact: On Dec. 11, 2013 Canada Post's management announced, without warning either the public or the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, that home delivery for five million Canadians would be cut, there would be at least 8,000 layoffs, and letter costs would increase from 63 cents to a dollar.

As many have pointed out, Canada Post's reasons for worse service at a higher cost are bogus, based around half-truths and flat out fabrications.

Myth #2: Canada Post says it is no longer profitable.

Fact: Since the mid-1990s Canada Post has been profitable every single year -- except in 2011 when the company locked out 50,000 of its workers in an effort to weaken the union and its contract. In that time, Canada Post has fed over a billion dollars into the public purse.

Myth #3: Letter traffic is decreasing so much that a profitability crisis is inevitable; according to Canada Post the Internet is to blame.

Fact: Since 1989 -- before the advent of the Internet -- the volume of mail has actually increased. Parcel delivery has increased as letter volume has decreased. Private for-profit couriers make money delivering parcels, not letters.

Myth #4: The $6.5 billion shortfall in the Canada Post pension plan is a time bomb that can destroy the company.

Fact: The Canada Post pension plan is in decent shape. Unlike private-sector pensions, the Canadian government requires Canada Post to fund the pension plan at a higher level than the private sector. The current underfunding only means that if all Canada Post employees retired at once, they wouldn't get the entire pension they're due.

Under Harper, the Canadian government gave Canada Post a four-year reprieve from paying into the pension plan. With the money they saved, they invested $2 billion into new letter-sorting machines, even though letter volume is declining -- and is now being cited as a reason to cut Canada Post services! If money has been wasted, it was management's fault. There is no pension crisis.

Myth #5: Canada Post has to end home delivery -- there are no other options.

Fact: If Canada Post introduced postal banking it could become even more financially sound and offer even better services to the public, especially in rural areas where home delivery often doesn't exist. Many national postal services around the world offer postal banking which helps them stay afloat and even profitable. In fact, postal banking is exactly what the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is proposing for Canada Post.

Myth #6: Service cuts and increased costs are about saving Canada Post.

Fact: The service cuts and increased costs are about making the public upset with lack of services. The layoffs are about weakening the union. Cuts and layoffs are about preparing Canada Post's retail network of post offices and outlets -- the largest and most extensive retail network in the country -- and its unparalleled delivery services for privatization.

Canada Post is being prepared for privatization precisely because it is highly profitable.

Myth #7: Community super-boxes, which are to replace door-to-door delivery in urban areas, are safe and accessible.

Fact: Community super-boxes are not safe and accessible. A CBC report has revealed that there were 4,880 incidents of vandalism, arson and theft from these super-boxes between 2008 and 2013. There is also no guarantee that these super-boxes will be accessible for thousands who have mobility issues, seniors or the disabled. And Canada Post has no plans to consult us on where the community boxes are placed.

Myth #8: Canada Post must have done consultations before deciding to cut services and raise postage rates.

Fact: Canada Post management kept both its workers and the public in the dark. They announced the cuts and service cost increases the day after Parliament retired for the holidays. They have provided no evidence that any real consultations with Canadians was ever attempted.

Myth #9: Seniors are telling Deepak Chopra that they want more exercise and being forced to pick up mail at community super-boxes in all seasons is good for their health.

Fact: Seniors have not expressed that they think being forced to walk to community mailboxes will be good for their health. This is an outrageous lie that Deepak Chopra told to members of Parliament when he was being questioned about the proposed changes at an emergency parliamentary committee meeting. He provided no evidence for his claim. This shameful response highlights just how heartless these service cuts are.

Myth #10: There is no privatization agenda at Canada Post.

Fact: Canada Post management has a privatization agenda. CEO Deepak Chopra sits on the board of the Conference Board of Canada, a policy think-tank that writes papers proposing policies for the federal and provincial governments to turn into legislation. The Conference Board of Canada wrote a paper that favoured wholesale privatization of Canada Post. The paper even used faulty arguments and figures to justify privatization. In other words, sound and careful gathering of facts was dispensed with in favour of ideologically-driven ideas.

Canadian companies, pro-corporate bureaucrats like Chopra, and their friends in the federal government have all watched Britain's Royal Mail sold-off well below its value. The privatization of Royal Mail ripped off the public. The privatized shares of the company were snatched up by major financial and corporate institutions, including many of the millionaires who populate the ruling British Conservative party.

Canada Post is a public service. It is owned by all Canadians. It should serve Canadians as an affordable and effective communications and delivery system, not as a cash cow for private interests at the expense of the public.

What needs to happen with Canada Post is an expansion of services like postal banking to improve services for rural Canada, saving home delivery for five million Canadian, and saving thousands of decent, hardworking jobs.

(Sources for this piece include: Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada Post reports, news stories, interviews and independent research.)  [Tyee]

Read more: Federal Politics

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