Screwing Up The System

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This community mailbox replaces door-to-door delivery for 32 houses.

They’ve been around for 30 years, but today I have to use one for the first time. Canada Post is ending home delivery to my neighbourhood and I will have to pick up my mail at a community mailbox.

It’s a financial decision to keep the postal service in the black. I think it is unlikely to do that in the long term. I think that, by ending door-to-door delivery, the postal service is dooming itself to extinction. If it wasn’t already doomed by poor management and changing technology. After all, when did you last send or receive a letter (as opposed to bills and junk mail)?

This phasing out of home delivery was supposed to be an election issue. The now-victorious Liberals have promised to review the matter. I suspect that will be their first broken election promise, the community mailbox is here to stay.

The past fifty years have seen a decline in the postal service in Canada. I’m sure the president of Canada Post would take issue with that, but the facts speak for themselves.

I am old enough to remember morning and afternoon deliveries, though the mail only came once on Saturday. (I don’t know if rural areas got two deliveries daily, but we did in the city. At least that is how I remember it.) Now, other than junk flyers, I only receive mail maybe twice a week – and that is only the few bills I don’t receive electronically (though I pay them that way). I rarely send letters, and I have even cut back on Christmas cards due to the excessive postage costs.

It is a combination of cost and convenience that has led me (and I suspect millions of others) to give up on the postal service. Back in the days of twice a day delivery, before automation, a letter posted in town would be delivered to an address in town no later than the following day. For five cents. That doesn’t happen anymore. I sometimes wonder if all the mail is shipped to the main sorting facility in Mississauga, Ontario, to be sorted. That would explain the 85 cent cost of sending a letter (plus tax) – we pay for storage as well as delivery. Certainly it seems to take a lot longer. Is it any wonder people prefer to send emails instead of letters, and entrust their parcels to UPS?

Canada Post doesn’t seem to have grasped the technical challenge of the fax machine which became popular in the 1980s, let alone the mass migration to email. With mail volume down their response has been to raise rates and decrease service. That really makes me want to send more letters! I am convinced the postal service is doomed, but I am confident the top officials at Canada Post will have no trouble finding new jobs – they will probably all go to work for OC Transpo, our municipal transit system.

Like Canada Post, OC Transpo has seen a recent decline in its business. Fewer people are riding the buses. And there are major delays in the bus system due to a multi-billion dollar light rail system being constructed. Management’s response? They intend to follow the postal model. With a decline in ridership and decline in service they intend to increase transit fares. Which will only encourage people to use their own vehicles rather than increase public transit use.

The first community mailbox, introduced in 1985, was a sign that Canada Post was losing its way. It has been a long, slow death, but the new mailbox on my corner is one of the last nails in its coffin. The election promise was too little, too late.

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2 comments

  1. […] an update on a couple of earlier posts might be in order. As you may recall, Canada Post introduced community mailboxes to my neighbourhood just after last October’s federal election. This arguably was the first […]

  2. […] door-to-door mail delivery, suspended its community mailbox program – the day mine was put into service. Too late to change pans for my neighbourhood. After two weeks of using it I’m not completely […]

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