After making a profit in the second quarter of the year, Canada Post has reported a loss of $13 million in the third quarter.

In the first nine months of the year, the Crown corporation lost $20 million before tax, a figure that is likely to play into upcoming decisions over door-to-door delivery.

On Oct. 26, after the election of the Liberals, Canada Post put the transition to community mailboxes on hold, saying it will work "collaboratively" with the Government of Canada to determine the best path forward.

The community mailbox program has been controversial because of lack of consultation over where boxes are installed, as well as because of the loss of service to millions of Canadian homes.

The Liberal platform promised to ensure "high quality service at a reasonable price to Canadians, no matter where they live."

The third-quarter numbers show traditional mail use dropping again, with what the postal service calls "transaction mail" volumes falling by 5.5 per cent, even though election mailings helped boost the volume of deliveries.

Canada Post hopes its parcels business, mainly deliveries of merchandise ordered online, will help keep it profitable in the years ahead as traditional mail volumes fall.

In the third quarter, parcel volumes rose 10.4 per cent as revenue from parcels rose by $43 million to $380 million.

The fourth quarter, with the crucial holiday season, is likely to be the most profitable period for parcel delivery. In November, Canada Post starts Saturday delivery to keep up with the holiday rush.

 The Canada Post Group of Companies, which includes Canada Post, Purolator Holdings Ltd., SCI Group Inc. and Innovapost Inc., was profitable, earning $10 million before tax in the third quarter.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said Canada Post is downplaying its financial success by concentrating on the loss from Canada Post instead of the profit from Canada Post Group of Companies.

The union representing postal workers said in a statement that the company is being misleading in an attempt to impose "unnecessary cost-cutting measures."