Local postal workers were blindsided Wednesday when they were delivered the news that Canada Post is doing away with door-to-door letter carriers.
Within the next five years, 6,000 to 8,000 positions will be eliminated to phase out home delivery and replace it with community mail boxes.
“We were devastated to hear about this before we even got to work,” said Ed Evans, Local 842 president of the Canada Union of Postal Workers. “We were told nothing before this announcement,” he continued. “What this means is the end of an era for Canada Post.”
The national mail service cites rising costs and falling mail volumes have rendered the traditional operations no longer sustainable.
“We deliver to the public and a lot of those people are becoming older,” said Evans. “That means walking two blocks down the street to a postal box to pick up your mail,” he explained.
“Icy sidewalks on hillsides, which this town has, is a concern and one of the reasons for door-to-door delivery.”
The Trail post office has 18 employees, and 12 letter carriers.
“How this will affect us is undetermined today but these are full-time jobs,” said Evans. “And I can guarantee there will be a lot less of us, at least 50 per cent.”
One mobile route, which means one person would sort the mail and deliver it to street letter boxes by vehicle, would service 1,500 people, he said.
“In a small town like Trail this means the new system would replace our employees two-to-one,” added Evans.
Canada Post reported a pre-tax loss of $109 million in the third quarter period that ended Sept. 28, and continues to face competition from couriers and technology that has led to growing popularity of consumers paying their bills and communicating online.
“I think this is just an excuse to start down the road to privatization,” Alex Atamanenko, MP BC Southern Interior, told the Trail Times Wednesday afternoon.
“Once again the rural communities are being hit,” he said. “They are ruthless and I think the timing of this announcement is draconian.”
The House of Commons adjourned on Tuesday until late January.
The postal service maintains that most of the jobs will be cut mainly through attrition with a further 15,000 employees expected to retire or leave the company over that same time period.
“Our system is emptier than it use to be,” Anick Losier, media relations for Canada Post told the Trail Times earlier this year. “This company was built on letters and an affluence of letters across the country.”
Losier said that since the introduction of the tablet (Apple) in 2008, the company has seen a rapid decline of letters and increased revenue loss.
“I understand the union’s concerns but our business has changed dramatically.”