P stamps out, 63-cent stamps back in – for now

Following the withdrawal of permanent-rate P-marked stamps, Canada Post has returned to definitive stamps marked with the current-first class domestic rate of 63 cents. The new stamps were put into post offices within hours of Canada Post announcing a proposed domestic-rate increase to 85-cents per stamp, or $1 if stamps are purchased as singles. The announcement was part of the corporation’s five-point plan to return to profitability. In making the announcement on Dec. 11, the corporation said the new increase was planned for March 31, and permanent-rate stamps would be withdrawn from issue until that time. An already approved increase to 64 cents has been deferred. The new rates, which will include comparable hikes for United States, international, oversize and overweight rates, all require government approval before taking place.

On Dec. 18, the Commons Transportation committee began a series of hearings into the proposals. Most testimony dealt with the proposal to end home delivery, and plans to cut out thousands of postal workers’ jobs. The new 63-cent stamps are the same as the earlier definitive series launched in January 2013. It includes the Canadian pride, or flag over, group of five stamps, and a Queen Elizabeth II definitive. In December 2013, Canada Post official Anick Losier told CSN that the planned issue of new definitive stamps would go ahead in January 2014, but that the new stamps would have the 64-cent rate. The new stamps mean that the definitive designs for 2014 will include two different versions of each stamp, one marked the “P” for permanent, and the other with “63,” for 63-cents.

Other definitives, such as international and United States, were not offered in permanent-rate versions. The move is somewhat reminiscent of 1981, when Canada Post issues a non-denominated “A” definitive stamp. The A stamps, were issued on Dec. 29 of that year, because Canada Post needed a stamp for the new proposed first-class rate, but did not know how much of the proposed rate increase would be approved. The stamps were produced with an A mark. By the time those stamps entered the postal system the new rate had been set at 30 cents, nearly double the 1981 rate of 17 cents. If approved, the 2014 rate of 85 cents will be the largest increase in the first-class rate in a single year – since that 1981 issue.

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