Some of the changes proposed by Canada Post, both those underway and those being considered, are raising red flags for B.C. Southern Interior MP, Alex Atamanenko, and Ed Evans, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), Local 842.
Atamanenko recently wrote a letter to Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport and the minister responsible for Canada Post, (Trail Times Letter to the Editor, March 28,) outlining his concerns with the opening of a franchise postal outlet in Osoyoos directly across the street from an existing post office.
In the letter he also raises concerns about a similar “high traffic dealership outlet” proposed for Rossland that would also see 1.5 full-time positions eliminated at the existing post office installation in the Golden City.
“I think they’re on the road to privatization, that we’ll see them close our post offices and turn them into private outlets,” said Atamanenko.
“My fear is that what I’ve seen in Osoyoos will continue,” he added.
However, Canada Post has a somewhat different perspective on the process and says that any changes to service in Rossland are only in the investigative phase at this point.
“We have a whole process which begins with union notification.
“It’s a process of consultation with the union and they have the opportunity to respond.” Anick Losier, spokesperson for Canada Post, told the Trail Times from Ottawa. “We have to do a business assessment, look at the transactions that take place. Sometimes it’s about the hours of service, we need to see if the existing service is meeting the public’s needs. If necessary we can add to our network through a franchise. It can be an extra convenience.”
Nevertheless, Atamanenko is alarmed at what he sees as a reduction of service at existing postal outlets, with the reduction of hours at the Trail post office and the elimination of Saturday service at a number of smaller, rural outlets in the area, and the potential for elimination of reasonably high wage union positions.
“I met with the executive directors of four chambers of commerce and there is some concern in the business community,” he said. “If we pull out a dozen or even half a dozen high paying jobs it’s a hit on a small community.”
The local CUPW president echoes many of Atamanenko’s concerns and sees the proposed changes as possibly leading to even darker future for postal service in Canada.
“It’s like they’re dismantling public post offices in small cities,” Evans said. “It seems like Canada Post just takes little steps at a time so the public doesn’t object until it’s too late. And the service you get at a sub-post office is not even close. You get one person working in the back of a drug store for minimum wage and from what we’ve seen the service goes way down.”
In spite of the corporation’s reassurances, Evans still has concerns about the future of the postal service in Canada.
“This infrastructure that we have in place serves the small towns and rural areas,” he said. “They take this apart and we’ll never be able to afford to re-build it.
“People have to make a stand. It belongs to them; this is their company, not the Conservative government’s, not any corporation. Canada Post is the property of the people of Canada and it is being systematically dismantled and sold off.”