Milkmen are one of many relics of a time passed. They’re the kind of temporal facets that are used in establishing scenes in movies and TV shows to make it clear to the viewer that it’s a period piece, like glass-bottled Coca-Cola, or the socially acceptable day-drinking in Mad Men.
For as long as I can remember, to get my household’s mail I’ve had to walk about 5 minutes from my house to a community mailbox, unlock an individual compartment and retrieve it manually. This seemed entirely reasonable to me, that is, until I recently found out that this wasn’t even “basic” service.
According to interviewee Pat Israel in a recent article in The Star (“Postal workers go to court to save home delivery”), Canada Post’s initiative to end home delivery isn’t the loss of a luxury, but indeed the end of a basic, expected service.
Announced in their five-point Action Plan that was released in December 2013, Canada Post mandated that: “The one third of Canadian households that still receive their mail at their door will be converted to community mailbox delivery over the next five years. (The other two thirds already receive their mail and parcels through community mailboxes, grouped or lobby mailboxes or curb-side rural mailboxes.) Community mailboxes offer individually locked mail and small packet compartments as well as larger locked compartments for securely receiving parcels.” This is in response to the growing financial trouble Canada Post has dealt with in past years, prompting them to even raise the cost of stamps from 63 to 85 cents (in bulk, or $1 each). What’s more, even the Post’s spokesman, Jon Hamilton, has stated that snail mail just isn’t as common as it used to be.
“With the amount of mail on the decline year after year, we have to make changes in order to secure postal service for all.”
In response to the loss of home delivery, Israel and many others who are either elderly or disabled have joined efforts with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers constitutional challenge against the crown corporation. Constitutional lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo claims that the move violates seniors’ and disabled people’s rights. Furthermore, he argues that Canada Post cannot change the policy, as it was created and mandated by Parliament, who hold the decision making power.
While in a perfect world people like Israel may have a legitimate argument, there’s simply too much logic to the opposition’s argument. The fact is that two-thirds of the country have done without home delivery thus far and have survived. Canada Post is even offering once-a-week home delivery with a valid medical note to support their claim, but again, Israel argues that she shouldn’t have to give out private medical information to keep the service the way she wants it.
Around 1970, Toronto and the rest of the country saw the last of the milkmen give up their trade, and yet, there’s still milk in fridges across the country. What was once considered a basic service is now fodder for historical features in newspapers, just as mail on the doorstep will soon be. Without home mail delivery, somehow, the world will keep spinning.