Door-to-door mail delivery could return after Canada Post review
Jordan Press and Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 5, 2016 5:00AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 5, 2016 3:39PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Canadians could find themselves with door-to-door mail delivery again at the end of what the government says will be a sweeping review of every business line at Canada Post.
The federal government unveiled Thursday a four-member panel that will look at the future of the Crown corporation, including whether the national letter carrier should get back into the banking business.
Privatization of Canada Post -- in whole or in part -- is not on the table, said Public Services Minister Judy Foote.
She said any changes will have to carry a reasonable cost, with the ultimate goal of making Canada Post self-sustaining.
Seniors groups and advocates for the disabled cried foul when Canada Post announced a controversial plan to phase out home mail delivery and switch millions of Canadians to community mailboxes as part of cost-saving measures.
During the election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pledged to restore door-to-door delivery. Once in power, he temporarily halted the move to community boxes that was already underway.
"Home delivery, yes. Home delivery in what format in terms of time is another question," Foote said when asked about the campaign promise.
"I don't think we specified in terms of home delivery being seven days a week or five days a week. We need to hear from Canadians what it is they need and Canadians are responsible and I think they will understand that it has to be at a reasonable cost."
NDP MP Erin Weir said the Liberals were clear on the campaign trail that they were going to restore home mail delivery and now appear to be backing away from that pledge.
"To most Canadians, that would mean to re-establish the existing service," Weir said.
"So it's quite strange for the minister to muse about two days a week or three days a week because at this point the Liberals aren't restoring home mail delivery for any number of days per week."
The panel will provide an interim report by the end of summer, with final recommendations to be made before year's end, Foote said. The total cost of the exercise is $2 million.
In a statement, Canada Post said it would help "determine the best path forward given the ongoing challenges faced by the postal system."
The union representing more than 50,000 postal workers in the country said the review was a historic opportunity to reinvent Canada Post.
The postal union has been pushing the banking option as a way for Canada Post to make money and held rallies Thursday in various cities as part of that push.
The postal service ditched its financial offerings in 1968, but the Canadian Union of Postal Workers argues that re-introducing banking at the agency's more than 6,500 outlets could generate revenue that's been lost as fewer people send letters.
Foote said the union will have a voice in the review.
The union and Canada Post are in the midst of negotiations on a new collective agreement with a work disruption possible by the summer if the two sides can't agree on out a new contract.