Keep mail delivery until security issues are fixed, say posties

Chilliwack postal workers appeal to public and politicians to help prevent Canada Post's aim to end home delivery within five years

Peter Butcher

Local postal workers met with Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl last week to talk about the end of door-to-door home delivery.

The announcement by Canada Post last month to phase-out of home delivery service in urban areas has rankled both the public and affected workers, said Peter Butcher, president of the Upper Valley local of Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

The end of door-to-door is part of a new five-point plan by Canada Post to cut the bottom line, by relying on community mailboxes over home delivery for convenience and lower cost reasons.

Butcher and some colleagues attended a meeting with the local MP to express how the “streamlining” will affect carriers, their families, and the public.

“We wanted to tell him how we feel about this, so when he gets to Parliament, he has a good idea of what is going on,” he said.

Butcher represents 63 CUPW workers in Chilliwack, including letter carriers and rural route carriers.

Some of the postal workers will also be at the Home Show this weekend at Heritage Park bending ears about the topic.

“Even though we know we are losing letter mail, there’s got to be an alternative,” Butcher said.

Chilliwack has about 21 letter carriers doing home delivery, he said, and up to half could be eliminated in the phase-out.

Strahl shared in an email with The Progress that his meeting with CUPW representatives in Chilliwack recently “went well, with a good exchange of views.”

“I reiterated that Canada Post is an arms’ length Crown corporation with a mandate to operate without taxpayer subsidies, and that there is a need to respond to a massive decline in letter mail due to the increasing use of email, social media, texting, and other methods of communication.”

Asked if he’d heard from the public on the topic, Strahl replied: “I’ve heard from constituents who are concerned with mail theft and who want more information on Canada Post’s proposed delivery changes.

“I’ve also heard from many who do not wish to see their tax dollars go to subsidize the status quo at Canada Post.”

Butcher said the workers were told that Canada Post has been losing money, but they countered that was only in 2011, and had to do with financial consequences for the corporation from when the postal workers were locked out.

The CUPW wants to help Canada Post, said the union rep.

“We are trying to propose ways to help, so they don’t have to make such drastic cuts.”

Security of community mailboxes is still a big issue. Break-in numbers were up and December was a big month for theft.

“There are mailboxes in Chilliwack that were broken into in November that still aren’t fixed,” Butcher reported. “I think that’s unacceptable for a Crown corporation of this size that’s supposed to be a public service.”

The elderly, shut-ins and those with mobility issues will struggle to reach community mailboxes. The public is still very concerned about how they will access their mail, given the security risks, he added.

“They understand that door-to-door delivery is the only way,” he said. “We say to the corporation to keep it as is until you can fix the problem. Take the superboxes and put them where the problems are and test it out before you take away door-to-door. Find a solution first.”

The union can’t do it alone, and needs the support of the public, Butcher said.

“It’s your Canada Post,” he said. “Demand better service.”

Concerned members of the public can chat with a CUPW member at Heritage Park on Jan. 24-26, during the home show. They’ll be chatting with folks and sharing their suggestions to help offset costs, and stave off the postal cuts.