Residents can voice concerns at a public meeting in St. John’s
(From left) St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, local Canadian Union of Postal Workers president Mike McDonald and chief shop steward Craig Dyer speak to the media following their meeting at city hall Friday morning. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
The mayor of St. John’s believes eliminating home mail delivery has been on Canada Post’s agenda for years, and he’d prefer to see the federal Crown agency enhance that service rather than eliminate it.
“Mail delivery — good, dependable mail delivery — is a service we all have a right to enjoy, and that element is missing here now, and it’s not only the fault of Canada Post. It’s the fault of the federal government,” said Dennis O’Keefe, who spoke with reporters at city hall immediately after meeting with local representatives from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).
Earlier this month, Canada Post announced its plan to phase out home delivery in urban centres and dramatically increase the cost of sending mail, citing a decrease in the volume of mail it handles due to the increased use of communications technology.
“If this goes ahead, we’re looking at disadvantaging the city,” said the mayor.
“This is going to be a budget cost for us. You’re looking at disadvantaging seniors who are going to find getting to these mailboxes very difficult, especially in the wintertime. ... It’s also going to be a hardship for those who have disabilities.”
Mike McDonald, president of the CUPW local in St. John’s, said his union felt the consultation process Canada Post used to come to the decision was flawed. With that in mind, they’ve organized a public meeting to be held Jan. 7 at St. Teresa’s Parish Hall in St. John’s.
“Canada Post went across the country and said that they had consultations with the public, but we feel that they were inadequate, and that the average Canadian never had the opportunity to voice their opinions, ideas and concerns about the service, so we want to give the public in St. John’s and the outlying areas a chance to come in and speak and tell us how they feel about this service,” said McDonald.
Asked about the suggestion made this week by Canada Post president and CEO Deepak Chopra that seniors want to pick up their own mail to get exercise and benefit their health, McDonald called the statement.
“It’s just reflective of the way that local management here in St. John’s react to us when we come into meetings and tell them that we have a cost-saving idea and we think we could generate some new revenues with these ideas, and (management) just brushes us aside and says that, ‘We have a plan,’ and we know that plan is driving the postal service into the ground.”
Craig Dyer, chief shop steward for the local union, said mail carriers are being forced to work overtime at a great cost to the Crown agency. He said creating new positions could handle extra deliveries at a reduced cost to Canada Post.
O’Keefe said he will send letters to Chopra and federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, asking them to reconsider the decision. The mayor said the city will need to determine to what extent it will co-operate with Canada Post in figuring out where urban mailboxes will be located within St. John’s.
“My own feeling is hey shouldn’t come here looking for co-operation,” he said.