Less than a year after implementation of Canada's community mailboxes was put on hold, a poll commissioned by the Liberal government indicates two-thirds of Canadians support a transition away from home delivery to these boxes in urban and suburban centres.
The poll also suggests Canadians are widely satisfied with the services they receive from Canada Post, but would be willing to accept some changes — including alternate day delivery.
The survey is part of the federal government's ongoing review process into the future of Canada Post. During last year's federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau pledged to reverse the Conservative plan to end door-to-door delivery.
The poll was commissioned by Public Works and Government Services Canada and conducted by Patterson, Langlois Consultants this summer. It was deposited with Library and Archives Canada and published online, as is required for all public opinion research commissioned by the federal government.
According to the survey, Canadians report strong support and satisfaction with Canada Post: A full 91 per cent said they were somewhat or very satisfied overall, while 88 per cent agreed Canada needs a publicly owned and operated Canada Post.
A large majority of Canadians, however, also recognized the decreasing volume of mail being handled by the postal service, the financial pressures that Canada Post is under, and the need for operational changes to ensure its long-term sustainability.
Liberal campaign promise
The controversial 2013 decision by the Harper government to phase out door-to-door delivery in favour of community mailboxes was justified as a necessary step to ensure the survival of Canada Post.
Both the Liberals and New Democrats campaigned against the move, but since coming to power, the Liberals have been criticized for not acting more quickly to fulfil this promise.
Canada Post suspended its transition away from door-to-door delivery in October 2015 after the Liberals won the federal vote, but it has not been restored to those who have already had their services moved to community mailboxes.
In May, Judy Foote, the minister responsible for Canada Post, spoke of the "potential" for restoring door-to-door delivery once the government's review is complete.
"Our government is committed to ensuring that Canada Post continues to provide quality services at a reasonable price. That is why we launched an independent review, to hear directly from Canadians on the Canada Post services they want and need," Foote said in a statement emailed to CBC News.
The Conservative and NDP critics responsible for the Canada Post file did not respond to requests for comment.
Canadians are not necessarily opposed to a move toward community mailboxes, the poll suggests, as 69 per cent agreed that "increases in the number of community mailboxes are necessary to make the system sustainable" and a similar proportion (67 per cent) agreed to moving people in urban and suburban areas to community mailboxes.
This support included 63 per cent of city-dwellers and 50 per cent of Canadians who currently receive mail delivery at their doors.
However, the poll also had a contradictory result: 60 per cent agreed door-to-door delivery should be maintained for those who already have it, even if it costs more. Support was particularly high among those already getting home delivery.
The contradiction would appear to give the Liberal government some wiggle room.
Even those who receive their deliveries at community mailboxes reported a high level of satisfaction — at 86 per cent. Yet that was 10 points lower than those receiving door-to-door delivery.
While Canadians appear open to moving away from home delivery, they were adamant it remains essential for the elderly and people with mobility or health issues (92 per cent agreed with this statement).
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The poll also suggests Canadians have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to receiving their mail. A little over half said they do not feel the need to check their mail every day, and 73 per cent said they would support a move to alternate day delivery.
Canadians were widely opposed, however, to more drastic changes to Canada Post, such as significant increases in the cost of stamps or a move to weekly delivery (which 80 per cent opposed).
They were also against cuts in postal workers' pay or employment numbers.
Business owners also supportive
In addition to this survey, Public Works and Government Services Canada commissioned a poll of Canadian business owners. The poll, from EKOS Research, found business owners were also widely satisfied with Canada Post and supportive of its continuation as a publicly owned and operated institution.
Business owners approved of some potential changes to Canada Post, including tiered pricing for faster service and the opening of some new business lines to raise revenue, but were uninterested in Canada Post moving into banking services.
The survey by Patterson, Langlois Consultants was conducted between June 16 and July 4, 2016, interviewing 2,246 Canadians over the telephone, including both landline and mobile phones. A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus two per cent, 19 times out of 20. The contract — which included focus groups and online bulletin boards — cost $249,928.72.
The EKOS survey, which included in-depth telephone interviews and an online bulletin board, cost $142,137.