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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night … will keep us from venturing out to pick up our own mail.

The mail carrier is a dying breed in Canada, and will, within the next five years, become extinct.

Canada Post announced Wednesday it will phase out urban home delivery over the next five years. It’s the last nail in the coffin, considering the service has long since disappeared from rural areas.

In fact, only about a third of Canadian households still receive mail at home.

There’s little mystery how things came to this. Electronic communication has all but eliminated paper in envelopes. Even bills, notices and flyers are increasingly delivered online.

“In 2006, we delivered roughly five billion pieces of domestic Lettermail. That number has dropped to roughly four billion pieces, and about 30 per cent of that decline was in 2012 alone,” Canada Post announced in its 2012 annual report. “In 2012, we delivered roughly 255 million fewer pieces of domestic Lettermail than we did in 2011.”

As well, while the mail volume has plummeted, the number of new residences has climbed steadily over the years. More customers getting less mail is no longer economical.

Canada Post’s pension liability — like that of many public institutions — is also staggering: about $6 billion at last count.

The Crown corporation says about 6,000 to 8,000 positions will be eliminated over the five-year period, mainly through attrition. And postage rates will rise.

Postal workers say they were blindsided by the announcement.

Local union president Mike McDonald said the union was not consulted, and called the decision “a slap in the face.”

But it’s hard to imagine how they didn’t see it coming.

The corporation has warned about a pending crunch for years  and spent this summer touring the country to garner public input. (Apparently, the public wanted a hike in postage rates and no more carriers darkening their doors.)

Like others, McDonald warned the move may be a prelude to privatizing the service. That may not be a bad thing. In September, Britain took measures to privatize the Royal Mail. At the very least, there’d be less temptation to bail them out with public money.

Nonetheless, the effect on some of the more vulnerable people in Canadian communities will be hard to ignore.

As well as lacking mobility, many seniors have been slow to adapt to handling their affairs online. For them, the transition will prove to be a challenge. And rising postal rates will have a big impact on small businesses that rely on snail mail.

Moreover, the mailman at the door is one of the few vestiges left of a world where services were provided at the door by real people, in the flesh.

Please, please, Mr. Postman? There’s an app for that now.

Organizations: Canada Post, Royal Mail

Geographic location: Canada, Britain

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  • Cashin Delaney
    December 16, 2013 - 19:49

    "That may not be a bad thing. In September, Britain took measures to privatize the Royal Mail." Why not go for golden journalism and tell us something about the work of Moya Green, her continued connections to Canada Post/E-post and her "fixer" role in setting up Canada Post for failure by selling the pirate map to privatization; "Postal Transformation". Compared to the emerging state of affairs in the U.K. as of Royal Mail's "transformation" we must expect the same union-busting tactics. "At the very least, there’d be less temptation to bail them out with public money." This is the abused meme they love to run with, as popular in Canada as the, every Indian gets a free education meme. Who bailed out GMC then? I don't remember the CROWN setting up that business or being the sole shareholder? The Telegram would get it's ass kicked hard if it (maybe it never has, it doesn't come up in a search) printed conjecture about a auto company's impending bailout. Afraid the Hickman's will call that’s all. Gutter-press that attacks our countries mainstays and gets it’s bread from a separatist province. Postal transformation saw two MLOCR mail processing machines installed in St. John's, during a time when CUPW, and corporation are both howling about letter mail decline. This money could have upgraded the parcel conveyor systems at the St. John's plant for the dominance of the point-click-materialism of online shopping. Canada Post is manipulating itself toward insolvency (no sense to the rate jacking, unless self-sabotage is considered) to facilitate its own privatization and manufacture a feeling of resentment among Canadians. The self-fulfilling prophecy is gaining momentum. Canada Post has no interest in fixing its terrible, bloated management problem or it's stupid, money-wasting National rollouts of untested, unnecessary technology. It is using these attributes to self destruct. I will now make a bold and careless assumption. Moya Green was the Williams/Dunderdale Bad Cop, and Deepak Chopra is the Dwight Ball Good Cop. Canada Post will we privatized by Deepak (loves to manage the fallout). NALCOR will be privatized by Dwight Ball (loves to manage the fallout). The writing is on the wall, what looks like pure management stupidity is really a cunning piece of manipulation. The media has a big role to play in perpetuating Canada Post/Federal government mythology and the vacuous ideological drivel of CUPW. Caught in the middle are the people who want to bring you your mail and parcels.

  • Joe
    December 13, 2013 - 07:16

    With the number of scams and the amount of hacking of information on the internet the intelligent mind wonders why it is imperative that everyone use this method of doing all their business. I guess even the supposedly most intelligent life form on the earth(sarcasm) are still lemmings.

  • Edmund
    December 13, 2013 - 06:13

    Canada Post sold off the its profitable assets years ago. Like all right wing governments, the strategy is to starve a public service of funds, then throw up its hands proclaiming that it isn't in the "taxpayer's" interest to keep it going and that government has no business in delivering services anyway. It's a doddle here, since townies and baymen will fight over themselves over who should have the fewer services. Throw a public service union into it and the usual crowd will go ripping into them with the mantra that they get paid nothing so everyone else should too. And Harper and his corporate buddies will walk away from this while the monkeys fight amongst themselves.