Despite raking in millions of dollars in profits, Canada Post says it can't afford to back down on its controversial plan to scrap door-to-door mail delivery in towns and cities across the country.
The Crown corporation held its annual general meeting in Ottawa on Thursday where it announced a pre-tax profit of $24 million for the first quarter of 2015.
Canada Post says its profits were boosted by an increase in the price of postage and by growth in parcel traffic as more Canadians shop online. Parcel deliveries brought in revenues of $380 million in the first quarter, $39 million more than the same period in the previous year.
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While parcel numbers are up, however, Canada Post says its core business, delivering letters, bills and other correspondence, continues to plummet. According to its own figures, Canadians sent 1.4 billion fewer pieces of mail in 2014 than they did in 2006.
Deepak Chopra, president and CEO of Canada Post, told the corporation's annual meeting the corporation is now weathering "seismic changes" that require "difficult choices."
Opposition to community mailboxes
In other words, despite making money in the first quarter of 2015 and despite posting an overall pre-tax profit of $194 million in 2014, the corporation is still forging ahead with plans to install community mailboxes in communities across the country, effectively bringing an end to door-to-door mail delivery.
"What we are trying to do is avoid becoming a burden on taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars if we don't act responsibly now," Chopra said, speaking to a roomful of Canada Post employees and retirees at the corporation's Ottawa headquarters.
"We don't want to wait until the problem has become so severe that the initiatives we will be forced to take would be even more difficult."
Canada Post's plan has provoked anger and frustration in some communities. The City of Hamilton is challenging the corporation's plan to install community mailboxes in the city because of concerns about safety, traffic and litter around the new units.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has joined a lawsuit arguing home mail delivery should be protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mike Palecek, the union's national president, was in Ottawa Thursday to question Canada Post executives at the corporation's annual meeting.
"This corporation belongs to Canadians. And there's been a rising tide of opposition to what you're doing," Palecek told the meeting.
"When are you going to listen to the owners of Canada Post and scrap this ridiculous plan?"
Federal New Democrats have vowed to preserve door-to-door delivery if they form a government after the next election. When asked what his plan would be in that situation, Canada Post's CEO said only that the corporation's plan was based on "good facts."
"Our plan is well thought out and we would like to continue to focus on our priorities," Chopra said.