Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Canada Post's real crisis is one of management

I gave the following 10-minute speech on Tuesday, Jan. 28th, in the House of Commons.
Mr. Speaker,
I rise today in support of the motion by the honourable member for Trinity-Spadina.
That in the opinion of this House, door-to-door delivery of regular mail is a valuable service provided by Canada Post, and that this House express its opposition to Canada becoming the only country in the G7 without such a service.
Mr. Speaker, it SHOULD be the opinion of this House that door-to-door delivery of regular mail is a valuable service provided by Canada Post.
But it IS the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the constituents of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
How do I know that, Mr. Speaker?
Because I asked them.
That’s a novel idea, Mr. Speaker, asking Newfoundlanders and Labradorians — asking Canadians — what they think.
That’s not what happened with these changes to Canada Post.
The Crown corporation carried out consultations by invitation only with comments submitted beforehand.
In other words, it wasn’t a public process — a public process involves … the public.
But the public, by and large, was forgotten, the public was ignored.
There was consultation, Mr. Speaker, with the CONSERVATIVE government.
The changes at Canada Post were announced on Dec. 11, the day AFTER the House of Commons closed for the fall session.
Do you think that’s a coincidence, Mr. Speaker?
That Canada Post announces the elimination of home delivery, the termination of 6,000 to 8,000 jobs, raises the price of a stamp by up to $1, and cuts the hours of rural post offices?
The day AFTER the House closes?
So there’s no discussion, no debate, no questions, no answers.
Do you believe in coincidence, Mr. Speaker?
Not with this Conservative government.
Sidestepping democracy is this government’s modus operandi.
Not only was the public NOT widely consulted, but this House, the people’s representatives, weren’t consulted.
Beyond that, the minister responsible for Canada Post released one written statement in support of the cuts and then refused to answer questions.
Could it be that the minister is taking the time to write us all a letter about the changes to Canada Post?
Not likely, Mr. Speaker, not likely given the price of a stamp.
After the changes to Canada Post were handed down, the Chief executive officer said that seniors were happy enough to lose home delivery because it will give them an opportunity to get exercise, to get fit.  
The CEO has obviously never had to climb the summit of a snowbank in front of a super mailbox and use a blowtorch to unfreeze the keyhole to get the mail, as one senior in my riding told me.
The seniors and disabled I consulted in my riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl didn’t mention exercise as a plus to the cancellation of home delivery.
Not one, Mr. Speaker.
They brought up questions like how they’ll get their mail in the snow and ice and sleet and slush and horizontal rain and when it’s blowin’ a gale.
A public meeting was held in mid-January in my riding, a meeting organized by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and I’m going to read you some of the quotes I took down.
“Home delivery is our right. Do not put me in danger by forcing me to a super mailbox. And as for seniors needing our exercise, yes we do. And we’re going to get it in the next election.”
That means they’re not going to be voting Conservative, Mr. Speaker.
In case it wasn’t obvious.
“What should happen is they should scrap the Senate and save our Post office.”
Interesting idea, Mr. Speaker.
“Unless I become superwoman and learn how to fly I won’t be receiving any mail between December and April.”
That’s from a disabled woman in St. John’s and a member of the Council of Canadians with disabilities.
Here’s a quote from Ralph Morris, president of the Pensioners’ Association of Newfoundland and Labrador:
“For seniors, direct deposit of cheques should mean at the post office located at their front door.”
How about a quote from a young person:
“My generation isn’t expecting less, we’re going to DEMAND more.”
Those quotes were from the public meeting, and a lively one it was.
Let me read you an example of some of the mail was office has received:
“I live in St. John’s South in a 50-plus condominium. Like several people here I have a mobility problem. This curtails my walking any distance and if it is very windy or in the winter there is snow and ice and I am unable to walk anywhere. I do not have a car and there are several here in the condominium who no longer drive. With the new plans for mail to be no longer delivered to one’s home, I wonder how I will obtain my mail.
Good question.
And another comment:
“Would you please ask Canada Post if they are going to deliver my mail during the winter as I am unable to get to it. The CEO has no idea what I want or need unless he asks me and that was not done.”
I’ve gone out of my way to use as many quotes in this speech as possible, Mr. Speaker, because there was such limited consultation and the Conservatives need to be DELIVERED a message.
This past Saturday I organized a petition blitz in Mount Pearl.
Dozens of volunteers spent two and a half hours knocking on doors asking people to sign the petition, which calls on the Government of Canada to reverse the cuts to services recently announced by Canada Post and to look instead for ways to modernize operations.
At the end of that 2 and ½ hours we had gathered more than 1,400 signatures.
1,400 signatures, Mr. Speaker.
The response was overwhelming.
People don’t want to lose their home delivery.
Not a single one of the 1,400 people thanked Canada Post for the opportunity to get more exercise.
Not one, Mr. Speaker.
The municipal councils in St. John’s, Mount Pearl and Petty Harbour also agreed to carry the petitions in their offices.
Here’s a quote from the mayor of St. John’s, Dennis O’Keefe, who’s also vehemently against the cuts:
“The elimination of home postal delivery and the exorbitant increase in postal rates will impact severely on all residents of St. John’s and in particular on seniors and those with disabilities. Canada Post and the Conservative government need to recommit to their responsibility of government to provide a public service.”
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in general, those who live in urban areas, and Canadians across the country, don’t want to lose a home-delivery service — a treasured service — they’ve enjoyed for decades, while, at the same time, paying more money for postage.
The management plan at Canada Post seems to be to eliminate services, raise prices and cut jobs.  
That’s no way to modernize operations at Canada Post.
That’s no way to manage Canada Post.
There seems to be a problem at the top.

The Prime Minister appointed Deepak Chopra months before the lockout in June 2011 with a salary of $500,000 and a 33 per cent bonus.

Five months after the CEO was appointed Canada Post cut drug coverage and other benefits to all employees – including those on sick leave and disability.

And then they cut back services to the public.

Canada Post made more than $1.7 billion profit in 16 of the last 17 years.

The one year they didn’t make profit was the year the Canada Post locked its workers out.

There is a crisis within Canada Post, Mr. Speaker.

It is an invented crisis — it a crisis of management.

Is change inevitable — yes.

Yes it is, Mr. Speaker.

The number of letters may be down — that’s undeniable with social media, with the Internet.

But the number of packages is up.

Are there other opportunities for Canada Post — postal banking, for example?

Yes Mr. Speaker, there are.

Were Canadians consulted, Mr. Speaker.

No, they were not.

New Democrats want to protect home delivery, improve services to attract new customers, and raise revenues for Canada Post.

That’s what we want.

But announcing changes with little or no input from Canadians …

Announcing changes after the House of Commons closes, the day after it closes …

Telling seniors to swallow the changes and get more exercise …

That’s not the Canadian way.

No, Mr. Speaker, that’s not the Canadian way — that’s the Conservative way.

And it’s on its way out.

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