Manitoba

Canada Post chief seeks to boost profit

Hundreds turned out to hear Canada Post executives talk about the service's future plans at an inaugural public meeting in Winnipeg Tuesday — but some critics complained the presentation lacked substance.

Hundreds turned out to hear Canada Post executives talk about the service's future plans at an inaugural public meeting in Winnipeg Tuesday — but some critics complained the presentation lacked substance.

Jacques Côté, the Crown corporation's chief operating officer, told the crowd the corporation finished 2005 about $199 million in the black. However, even after a decade of profitability, he said he does not consider the business financially stable.

The company faces several challenges, including weak volume of lettermail, an expanding network of addresses to serve, dated infrastructure, and costs related to the workforce, such as job security, benefits and pensions. E-mail and online bill payments are also cutting into postal revenues, he said.

President and CEO Moya Greene said the corporation ships an average of 40 million items of mail to 14 million addresses every day — but only about two per cent of that is personal correspondence, such as letters or cards sent by individuals.

About 20 per cent of revenue comes from "addressed and unaddressed advertising mail" — which most Canadians call "junk mail" — and Canada Post hopes to expand that market.

Union disappointed with presentation

Greene said the splashy presentation proves her organization wants to be more transparent — but some in the audience said the bosses failed to deliver what was promised.

Deborah Bourque, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said the meeting didn't reveal enough about the corporation's future plans.

"I'm a little disappointed that more plans for the future of our public postal service weren't shared with the public," she said. Bourque called for the release of company executives' strategic planning document, but Greene said that wasn't possible.

"There isn't one. We have a plan to be successful, which is the plan that you heard about today," she said, adding that she doesn't understand the union's demand for more disclosure of information.

"I have had meetings with our bargaining agents — all of them, everywhere. I've gone across the country."

Many union members worry layoffs and plant closures loom in the future if the corporation tries to improve efficiency, Bourque said, pointing to a mail-sorting facility in Quebec City that Canada Post recently announced it would close.

The corporation has said none of the plant's 300 employees would lose their jobs in the closure, through attrition and the consolidation of other Quebec-based jobs.

Bourque said the union will take action if Canada Post refuses to hand over the documents it believes exist. Next Monday, members of CUPW will go to the corporation's Ottawa headquarters and demand to see the plan.

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