The president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is demanding Canada Post come clean to the public on the issue of thefts from Canada Post community boxes.

"We've been asking for this information for years and Canada Post refuses to release it," said CUPW president Mike Palacek.

Palacek was speaking in Richmond where the union estimates as many as 4,000 residents are being forced to pick up their mail in person at the Richmond Canada Post depot because of vandalized mailboxes. 

"I'm sure they could simply look at receipts from contractors they hire to repair [the mailboxes]. The fact that they refuse to release [any numbers] is highly suspect," said Palacek.

Don Anderson

A Richmond resident checks to see if his vandalized community mailbox has been repaired. (File photo from 2015) (Tricia Lo)

Canada Post spokesman John Hamilton told CBC News last Friday that he could not say if theft from Canada Post community mailboxes was a big problem.

"In terms of numbers, I don't have that," said Hamilton.

Last year the Liberal government launched a review of Canada Post after a decision to suspend a controversial cost cutting plan to convert over five million addresses from door-to-door delivery to community mailboxes.

In December, a House of Commons committee recommended Canada Post reinstate door-to-door delivery to the 830,000 addresses that had already been moved to community mailboxes.

Based on anecdotal reports, Palacek believes the problem of mail theft is substantial and Canada-wide, but he is frustrated the subject never came up during the review.

"We all realize that community mailboxes are a problem and far less secure than door-to-door delivery. And it would be nice if the public could have access to this information, while we discussed whether or not door-to-door delivery cuts are going to continue," he said.

The Liberals promised they would make a decision about Canada Post this spring.