New postal rates come in like a lamb

Canada Post’s new rates, arguably the biggest postal increases in a single year in Canadian history, went into effect on March 31 with very little fuss on the part of the general public. While it is common practice for United States mailers to stock up on postage prior to an increase, few Canadians were able to capitalize on the advance notice, since permanent-rate stamps were withdrawn from sale when the new rates were announced last December. Some resellers, such as Costco outlets continued to sell their existing stocks of P-rate stamps, however most Canadians seemed to accept the price with little complaint.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) was one of the few organizations to take an aggressive stance against the move, part of a five-point plan devised by Canada Post to return the Crown corporation to viability. “Small businesses still heavily depend on Canada Post for their everyday business operations,” the organization announced in a letter to Lisa Raitt, minister of transport and minister responsible for Canada Post. According to a survey done by the organization, 40 per cent of its members send at least 50 pieces of mail a month and more than 90 per cent report that sending and receiving mail is very important to their business.

“Given this reliance on Canada Post, CFIB was alarmed to learn of massive price increases as part of Canada Post’s five-point action plan,” the organization continued. “While we understand the very real challenges facing Canada Post, the extent of the price increase, and the speed with which it will be implemented, will have very significant impact on many small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the CFIB, said he believes the price increase, from 63 to 85 cents for first-class mail and from 63 to 75 cents for the metered mail often used by businesses, may even make matters worse by driving businesses to online solutions for business mailing, such as invoices. “Instead of walking, customers are going to run away from Canada Post,” he said. Other concerns seemed focused on how to use existing stamps.

Despite an announcement by Canada Post that permanent-rate stamps would return on sale after the rate increase took place there was a rumour that older stamps with the P-mark would require additional postage. A 22-cent “make-up rate” stamp was issued, but it was for use with 63-cent definitive stamps issued between the announcement of the new rate, and its implementation. One reader did send Canadian Stamp News an example of the new 22-cent stamp, used on a registered mail cover mailed on March 28, the Friday before the new rate took place. It may be the first postal use of the monarch butterfly stamp. So far, the most controversial measure in the action plan has been the proposed elimination of home mail delivery in favour of community mailboxes.

On March 29, just days before the rate increase, hundreds of people joined postal workers at the central post office in downtown Ottawa to protest service cuts. On March 31, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation was presented with a motion to block any efforts by Canada Post to use park spaces in that city for community mailboxes. The motion, introduced by board member Constance Barnes, was based on opposition to the cuts, as well as concern about safety.

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