Sunday December 11, 2016

Does Canada Post have to reinvent itself to survive?

A Canada Post employee delivers mail in Ottawa December 11, 2013.

A Canada Post employee delivers mail in Ottawa December 11, 2013. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Listen to Full Episode 1:29:49

Just in time for the holidays, Canada Post is looking to re-make itself before electronic media muscles it aside. Posties in Finland cut lawns, in the U.S. they deliver groceries, in Japan it's senior support. Is this the future for Canada Post?

Duncan McCue

Host of Cross Country Checkup, Duncan McCue.

'Tis the season, more than any other, that we think about the post office.

Whether you're lining up to mail Grandma her present, waiting anxiously for those online purchases to arrive, sending out Christmas cards, or even mailing your wish list to the North Pole ( postal code H0H 0H0), it's the busiest time of year at the post office.

But during the rest of the year, do you still use Canada Post?

It was once a vital institution, essential to communication and helping build the nation. But who sends letters anymore? Canada Post's volume of letters and junk mail is shrinking rapidly. When Canada Post and its union were on the brink of labour disruption this summer, many asked, "Is Canada Post really essential anymore?"

A bigger question: with so many of us texting and communicating online, can Canada Post survive in the digital era? Some say it's time to privatize, but Canada Post sees a future in its parcel service as more and more of us shop online. That's why its opening outlets with changing rooms and 24/7 self-service parcel kiosks.

The postal workers union thinks postal banking should be a thing. A task force recently recommended Canada Post not only deliver medical marijuana, it could also offer storefront sales of weed. In Finland, posties will mow your lawn. In the U.S., they'll deliver your groceries. In Japan and France, postal carriers are checking in on seniors.

Our question: Does Canada Post have to reinvent itself in order to survive?

Guests

Mike Palecek, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Twitter: @Mike_Palecek  @cupw

Carla Lipsig Mumme, Professor of Work and Labour Studies, York University and lead researcher of Adapting Canadian Work to Respond to Climate Change

Ron Rousseau, Postal worker in Carcross, Yukon and advocate for services for Indigenous and Northern communities.

Robert Campbell, President and vice-chancellor of Mount Allison University and author of two books on contemporary postal systems. 
Twitter: @Campbell_MtA

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