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Postal union bracing for cut to door-to-door service

Canada Post began its first in a series of service cuts by eliminating door-to-door service in some Canadian cities. Local union officials are predicting Trail won’t be far behind. - Trail Times File Photo
Canada Post began its first in a series of service cuts by eliminating door-to-door service in some Canadian cities. Local union officials are predicting Trail won’t be far behind.
— image credit: Trail Times File Photo

The cost of a postage stamp increasing to a dollar may not be much out of pocket but it's a sign of further changes delivered, according to Trail and Rossland's Canadian Union of Postal Workers president.

Canada Post is also eliminating door-to-door delivery for 5.1 million Canadians over the next five years and building thousands of community mailboxes instead.

Local 842 president Ed Evans is anticipating notice of street letter boxes locally and is doing what he can in the meantime to fight off the inevitable.

“It's almost like cutting your throat as far as the union is concerned, especially for people who are on fixed incomes,” he told the Trail Times.

“In any business, if you're going to raise the price of your product and offer less service, it's not good for your business at all.”

Evans is referring to the corporation announcing last month that it will begin implementing its transition to community mailbox delivery in 11 communities across Canada this fall. This is the first stage of a five-year national initiative involving roughly 5 million addresses.

While Greater Trail communities were not included in the initial list, Evans doesn't think it will be long as the neighbourhoods that have been selected are near areas that already have community mailboxes, much like what's seen locally.

“It's happened outside of Trail, say Waneta, in that they already have street letter boxes and so the notice given now is going to be in cities that have door-to-door service,” he said.

Anick Losier, media relations for Canada Post, said the first phase doesn't include any areas west of Calgary and couldn't speculate on what's to come as the 2015 list has yet to be finalized.

“The work is being done over the next five years so where we're starting right now is in neighbourhoods where we already have the infrastructure and where we also have more employees going on retirement so we were able to take advantage of attrition as well,” she said.“What we have said is that in a more densely populated area like downtown Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, they're going to be done last because we know that community mailboxes as it is now is probably not the best solution for places where there is no space for them . . .”

The five-year transition to community mailbox delivery will generate the largest financial benefit of Canada Post's five-point action plan. Once fully implemented, the community mailbox initiative is forecasted to save $400 million to $500 million a year, according to the corporation.

But the future is uncertain for the 23 union employees in Trail and Rossland, said Evans.

“There have been a lot of cuts but this is probably the biggest change ever in Canada Post history,” said Evans, whose worked for the corporation for 27 years.

“This is their rescue plan to get them out of so-called debt due to mismanagement decisions, as far as the union is concerned.”

Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko is hosting a town hall meeting March 13 at the Selkirk Room at the Castlegar Recreation Complex from 7-9 p.m. to address concerns and has made some noise in Parliament in the meantime.

He would like to see Canada Post explore other creative measures to save money, and have discussions with not only its workers but the communities involved.

“The removal of household delivery in cities like Trail and Nelson with the hills involved places a lot of hardships on people, especially seniors,  and those on disabilities,” he added.

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