The latest announcement of a “Five Point Plan” by Canada Post, would make George Orwell proud.
While there is no doubt that Canada Post is in financial difficulties, facing a brutal pension deficit, and that mail volumes are dropping, the corporation has managed to control the dialogue, and focus the debate on its own agenda for some time. One example is the 21-page document summarizing the corporation’s consultation with Canadians. Apparently, in every area, Canadians overwhelmingly support Canada Post. Everyone likes the idea of replacing home delivery with community mailboxes. Even senior citizens, who often dread winter walks in icy weather, welcome a way to get out of the house. In fact, one Canadian was quoted as saying door-to-door delivery is unreasonable in this day and age, despite the fact that home delivery six days a week is the norm in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France.
We are all happy to pay more for stamps, recognizing that we are paying a mere pittance. Those people who objected to rate increases lost their worry when it was pointed out how few letters people mail each year, an average of 24 a year per household. As a nation we were opposed to alternate-day delivery because we didn’t want to wait an extra day for parcels. Even though we can’t wait an extra day for those parcels, we have no problem if it takes a bit longer for lettermail to get delivered. That means that if letters move a bit slower because they have to be transported to and from a centralized sortation plant, we don’t really care. Ultimately, however, the report does summarize what I think is an accurate reflection of the fact that Canadians do not want to see Canada Post turn into a money pit for tax dollars.
For me, while I have followed this story for years and it now contains few surprises, the change in sorting and handling and a reduction in old-fashioned post offices are of interest from a postal history aspect. It is also interesting that we will be seeing the end of the permanent-rate stamps for a few months. It opens the exciting possibility of two rounds of 2014 definitives, some with the 2013 rate and some with the permanent rate, as well as the possibility of a 22-cent stamp to make up the rate to 85 cents. I am also intrigued that the report indicates that there may be a return of kiosks.
That means the fascinating subject of kiosk stamps, which we enjoyed covering this year, may prove to be a future source of interest if more stamps are brought out in urban post offices. Of course all this comes with a cost; the traditional mailbox stuck on the side of the house will now only be used for hiding keys, and mail slots will atrophy.
Change, as they say, is inevitable.