Canada Post halts controversial community mailbox program
Move away from door-to-door delivery put 'on hold'
Canada Post is suspending the conversion of door-to-door delivery to community mailboxes.
In a news release issued late Monday, Canada Post spokeswoman Anick Losier said the corporation will work "collaboratively" with the government of Canada to determine the best path forward given the challenges in the postal system.
"Efforts are now underway to place the comprehensive program on hold in an orderly fashion," Losier said in the release. "This involves roughly 460,000 addresses across the country which are currently in the process to be converted to community mailboxes."
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Outgoing Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, whose portfolio includes Canada Post, said the corporation makes decisions independent of government.
'Arm's-length Crown corporation'
"They are an arm's-length Crown corporation and take their own operational decisions," Raitt told CBC News. "But they also have a statutory obligation to operate self-sufficiently, and if they are not then I expect they will be held accountable."
Canadian Union of Postal Workers national president Mike Palecek said members are "ecstatic" about the news.
"We've been fighting this campaign for a year and a half, and we're glad they finally put a halt to this disastrous program," he told CBC News. "It's time to talk about the future of Canada Post, about restoring service to those who have lost it, and about having a public mandate review of Canada Post so we can look at alternatives to these cuts."
Palecek said Canada Post should be looking at expanding services, such as having banking and financial services in post offices. He said it appears that the incoming Liberal government is following up on an election campaign promise to put an immediate moratorium on the cuts and to carry out a study.
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The Liberal platform promised to ensure "high-quality service at a reasonable price to Canadians, no matter where they live."
"We succeeded in making this a major election issue and making sure that people understood exactly who it was and is to blame, and that's Stephen Harper and the Conservative government," Palecek said. "I think the Canadian public spoke loudly and clearly last week by changing the government."
Palecek said the CUPW will keep up pressure to restore delivery to the roughly one million addresses that have been converted to community mailbox service since the program began 10 months ago.
The Liberal Party declined to comment on the Canada Post announcement.
Montreal mayor ready to 'reconsider' lawsuit
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who once took a jackhammer to the concrete base of a community mailbox to make a point about his opposition to Canada Post's plans, spoke to reporters gathered at city hall on Monday.
Coderre said he was prepared to consider withdrawing from the lawsuit he joined to block the implementation of community mailboxes in Canada.
The City of Montreal was one of several municipalities to join the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' lawsuit earlier this year.
"We'll see what happens, but if everything is suspended I'm even ready to reconsider. But clearly we have to have a truce — because you have to be vigilant with Canada Post, we never know. They say one thing and then the next day, who knows what happens," Coderre said on Monday.
"But since we have a new government who was very clear on what would be the outcome of Canada Post, let's sit together. We want to be a part of a solution."
With files from CBC's Susana Mas, Sabrina Marandola