Canada's Postal Service

Posted 08.09.08

Denis Lemelin, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, wrote a letter to the West Quebec Post about proposed changes to postal service announced by MP Lawrence Cannon. The union, of course, is opposed to opening postal service to competition. In his letter he says, "Our basic postage rate currently ranks as one of the lowest in the industrial world."

That's an interesting statement. Since the Canadian and US dollars have been close to par for the past year, our first class postage is considerably higher than theirs.

It costs me 93 cents to send a letter to my sister in the US, but only 79 cents for her to reply. Furthermore, the US still has a lower rate for postcards, as well as Saturday delivery in most urban areas.

US Post Offices are still open to the public, so you can have a parcel weighed by someone who actually knows what they're doing, unlike here, where minimally-trained clerks in drug stores usually only know how to handle standard-sized packages. I have the Venture One program that is supposed to offer a discount to small business owners. But last year the discount evaporated, and the program only offers faster delivery.

Still, when I showed my card at a local drugstore PO a few weeks ago, she had no idea what it was or how to deal with it.

Canada Post has proposed yet another hike in rates, two cents every year for the next three years. They have already raised rates, without public notice, on parcels. I mail books to both Canadian and US Destinations, and discovered that those rates were raised in January and again in the spring.

Delivery to my Gatineau neighborhood is dismal. Last winter, the Ottawa Citizen managed to deliver my paper every day, despite the weather. The only exception was one terrible ice storm. My mail carrier, on the other hand, seems to take every occasion for a holiday: snow storms, heavy rain, some Mondays, some Fridays...

I'm not exaggerating.

Because of my business, and the fact that I subscribe to many publications, there is mail for me at the depot every day. But at least once a month my box is empty on a normal weekday. Postal workers in West Quebec take both Quebec and national holidays. For example, I received no mail on Monday, June 23, the day before the June 24 holiday. Then, of course, there was no mail on Tuesday, July 1.

Postal employees in the US also offer, in many areas, a volunteer check on seniors who live alone. If mail isn't picked up one day, a supervisor is notified, who has a list of contacts the senior has provided. Of course even if this were an option here, I could be lying comatose for days before my mail carrier would notify anybody. If I became ill on a Thursday it might take him until the following Tuesday to realize something was wrong, if that particular Monday happened to be one of his "off" days.

My weekly paper is often delivered well after events I might want to have attended have taken place. Since I live in an established neighborhood very close to a main intersection, with a Canada Post drop box on the corner, one can just wonder how bad service to the rural population is.

We can write to Mr. Cannon (postage free) if we want to complain. He's the federal minister responsible for Canada Post, not just a local M.P. from this area. His riding office is: 127 Joseph Street, Gatineau, QC J8L 1G1. That's a better way to reach him than his office on Parliament Hill.

Bobbi Graham's website has free pages and many resources for writers, publishers, and cat-lovers. Go to www.SimonTeakettle.com, and make sure you read Terzo's blog.

Copyright © 2008 Barbara Floria Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/09.08