I propose a warning:
“Beware of politicians. Common sense eludes”.
Conference Board in Canada recently commented on how Canada Post might deal
with what it calls “serious financial challenges” due to rapidly
declining mail volumes. According to a
CBC News story, the Corporation said it is expecting a “substantial
financial loss in 2013.” Actually,
the amount is $600 million annually by 2020 even if mail costs are increased by
“…10 percent a year starting in 2014…”
The story also
quotes NDP Member of Parliament, Olivia Chow, Opposition Critic, who disses any
notion of cuts to the ‘snail mail’ service.
Said Chow, “it would be wrong for Canada Post to “retreat”
from its mail delivery role. Instead of
contemplating cutting postal services, Canada Post should find new
opportunities to provide better and expanded services on the e-commerce front
so they can increase their revenues”.
has already said e-Commerce would boost only its parcel delivery service which would
not make up for its volume losses on general mail.
mail service finds itself in a position which is very similar to that of the Yellow
Pages Group (YPG), except that Company is not Crown owned. The ubiquitous use of digital media forced the
disappearance of those bulky “Yellow Pages”, in many markets (though not in NL,
yet), sending the Company into rapid decline.
All the equity holders were virtually wiped out. YPG is now trying to survive based largely
upon a digital incarnation. Unlike Olivia Chow’s implication that the Federal
Government should underwrite the losses of Canada Post, there was no such
expectation, on behalf of Yellow Pages, to sustain a service already passé. Nor should there have been any.
of technological change do not occur without leaving a trail of hardship for
those caught up in the maelstrom. Indeed, change need not be inspired only by
digital applications; an ever changing free market presupposes that the supply
chain, and the products and services that it delivers, will all be impacted by
the ebb and flow of changing human needs. It should be noted, Canada Post saw some of these
changes coming and purchased Purolator Courier to respond to on-line purchases
and perform the fast parcel service for which it was not geared. Competition will keep Purolator lean, unlike
it monopolistic parent.
Post’s problems are shared by postal agencies world-wide. It is no one’s fault. Yet, we constantly look
to our political leadership for exemption from the worst impacts of change.
That is to be expected; but, when a politician’s only counsel is taxpayer
support, that kind of rhetoric is not a palliative anyone can take to the bank. Nor does it allow an Opposition Party to claim
new approaches and better ideas.
course, the ‘duty’ of Opposition politicians to be critical of Government
policies, including how it responds to change. The pressure which Oppositions, Unions and
other interest groups bring to bear is significant and invariably slows down or
contorts the process of change in a way that does not always favour ‘progress’,
no matter how it may be defined.
know that Canada Post services are now substantially associated with the junk
mail industry (that is not to diminish its importance to the economy), they
know that Super Mail Boxes have been a feature of new residential developments since
the 1980s and that people in older neighbourhoods have gotten used to them,
too. Not Olivia Chow. “Cutting
door-to-door delivery to the more than five million Canadian homes that now get
it would be unfair. There are people that aren’t very mobile … who can’t get
to a centralized point”, said the MP.
She might have enlightened us as to what the immobile do in areas already
populated by Super Mail Boxes!
obituary. Postal workers whose jobs may
be threatened as Canada Post shrinks, need more than an Opposition Member’s
hope that the Government will ante up any deficits from an already
over-stretched public purse.
for workers, threatened by change, needs changing.
Gone are the
days of a single employer providing a life-long career, within government or in
the private sector. Employees across
this Country should have no wish to cling to dying companies; what they need is
the flexibility to move from one employer to another without losing important pension
benefits. They need re-training funds and generous re-location incentives, too. Financial stability, mobility and job skills
represent the perfect tool kit for the modern world.
have meant well, but, her Party ought to consider the idea of an employee pensions
strategy that is as mobile as the job market, not the inadequate version Finance
Minister O’Flaherty is promoting. We
need a system that will accommodate workers whether they have one or twenty
employers throughout their working career. Likely modifications to the rules
for RRSPs can do the job simply and easily.
should not be too hard on Ms. Chow.
Expect the Conservatives, too, to drag their feet on Canada Post reform
much as it has by slowing the Corporation’s efforts to invest in new
technologies. And, don’t expect any encouragement from public sector unions. They will hold out, to the end, for a defined
benefit pension scheme, only Governments and their Agencies offer, making
pension mobility impossible for many.
become a leader in defining legislation to protect and encourage a mobile
pension system. Add funds for re-training
and to ease transitions; likely, moving to a new job might be no much worse an
experience than ‘grannie’ feels having to pay her power bill over the internet.