Changes threaten jobs, limit access

"...to express mygrave concerns about the changes to service that Canada Post is in the process of implementing..."

I have recently written to the federal Minister of Transport, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, to express my grave concerns about the changes to service that Canada Post is in the process of implementing in several communities in my riding of BC Southern Interior. These changes threaten jobs, limit access to the post office for my constituents and reduce Canada Post staff morale.

Canada Post is representing the need for these changes to the public with a rationale that perpetuates mistruths about their purpose and necessity. Here are several examples from my riding:

•       In the town of Rossland (population 3,500) Canada Post is proposing to open a new “high traffic dealership outlet” in order to “improve service for customers in the market to be served.” At the same time, Canada Post is proposing to downsize the corporate retail outlet in Rossland, a move described by management as a “new smaller retail model.”

This “model” will eliminate 1.5 retail positions and place all retail products behind the clerk in a customer service window wicket.

•       Canada Post will eliminate Saturday service in many of the smaller and rural post offices in my riding, including Balfour, Christina Lake, Crescent Valley, Slocan Park and South Slocan, starting May 5, 2014.

•       Canada Post has reduced the hours of service in the Trail and Castlegar post offices by opening at 9 am rather than 8:30.

Canada Post is pitching the necessity for these changes across Canada as good business practice in the face of declining profits, the loss of letter post revenue and more competition for parcel services. It defies logic that the best way to complete in the marketplace is to reduce hours of business, withdraw services from communities and go into direct competition with oneself.

Reality check: According to the Canada Post website, the corporation posted profits in every year from 2009 to 2012 with the exception of 2011, when it locked out its workers. It would seem that Canada Post is determined to undermine itself by raising costs, cutting services and driving away customers in an ill-concealed attempt to privatize the corporation.

The loss of well-paid, union Canada Post jobs in the small communities that I represent will be devastating not only to the individuals whose livelihoods are threatened, but to small business and service industries that rely on customers to stay vital. The reduction in hours of service at corporate retail outlets and the opening of franchise outlets will not serve customers, employees or communities well.

Alex Atamanenko, MPBC Southern Interior