Liberal Government ends Canada Post conversions to community mailboxes

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The Liberal government, in keeping with their promise to reform Canada Post, has put an end to the community mailbox conversions that began back in 2014. However, while this will mean that door-to-door mail service will continue for those who are not on the service, already converted residences will continue to receive their mail through community mailboxes.

The move to community mailboxes was initially put in place by the previous Conservative government in an effort to cut costs, and since have halted door-to-door service for over 840,000 households with the intent of expanding  to over five million households. While the plan was cost-effective, it did create backlash from senior citizens and people with disabilities. Some of these folks  would find it difficult to switch to community mailboxes.

“You may not have an issue [with] community mailboxes but your 85 year old grandmother might,” said Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough when announcing changes at the Mississauga Canada Post plant on January 24. “We need to take care of your grandmother, and we want to make it easy for your grandmother to continue to get her mail because she deserves that.”

While the end of the conversion to community mailboxes is a step in the direction the Liberal Government wants to take, not returning door-to-door mail service to households already converted to community mailboxes have left some feeling lied to. This, prime minister Justin Trudeau, suggests is not so.

In an interview with Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio’s The House, he said, “We promised to stop Stephen Harper’s conversion to community mailboxes, and we stopped conversion to community mailboxes.”

However, back in December of 2015, the then public service minister Judy Foote had suggested that they were aiming to have full Canada Post door-to-door service restored. Despite this suggestion, Trudeau stands behind the idea that by ending the cost-cutting measures put in place by the Conservative government, the Liberal government is keeping, not breaking, their original promise.

This stance has caused criticism on both sides of the political spectrum. NDP MP Charles Angus suggests that the lack of attention to households that now have to use community mailboxes is unacceptable, while the Conservative MP voiced criticism suggesting that Canada Post needs to “stand on its own two feet.”

The decision to not restore door-to-door service is expected to upset postal workers who demanded the shift back in an effort to protect employment. In cancelling the change to community mailboxes, Canada Post will not get the savings – estimated at $350 million – that would have come had the additional 4.5 million residences been converted.

While the decision not to reinstate door-to-door services to all customers has caused some backlash, some believe that cancelling future conversions is, at the very least, a step in the right direction.

The new plan will also include changes to how Canada Post is allowed to operate their finances, allowing them to reinvest their profits in service as well as innovation so that the organization can become more efficient and self-sustaining.

Canada Post will also now have a task force dedicated to examining how the corporation might enhance the accessibility programs for the elderly, as well as those with disabilities who have already lost their home delivery service. The idea is to upgrade the existing program put in place as opposed to removing it entirely.

The government will likely push Canada Post to capitalize on parcel service as mail service has dwindled exponentially in a world of emailing.

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