A recent study shows that 45 per cent of post offices outside of Canada's big cities are in communities with no bank or credit union and that many others have banks or credit unions which are only open very limited hours.
This new information based on a survey of Canada's 3,300 rural post offices contradicts what Canada Post Corporation has been saying about one of the main reasons why Canada Post will not bring in postal banking services; because, according to its President, Canada "is well covered" by financial institutions.
More than 78 per cent of post offices answered the survey.
Offering financial services in post offices would not only create a new revenue stream, it would help numerous communities in Canada whose residents, in order to get to a bank or credit union, are forced to travel very long distances, which costs time and money and stifles economic development particularly in rural Canada.
Most other countries, which are just like Canada, such as the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Italy and New Zealand, have banking services right in their post offices, so people and businesses do not have to travel to do their banking. We also know that Canada Post did its own study last fall (which it has refused to reveal to the public in its entirety) but which shows that offering financial services would be a "win-win strategy."
Offering financial services would be a better way to go instead of implementing the cuts Canada Post announced in its five point plan in December 2013. Its plan has already increased rates, begun to close down more public post offices, reduced services in rural and urban post offices, making them less convenient while promoting franchises, started the shutdown of home delivery and is on track to eliminate over 8,000 good jobs in both rural and urban Canada.
Instead of supporting the cuts, Lisa Raitt, the Minister in charge of Canada Post, should also first consult with the public about any proposed changes to the post office by launching a review of the Postal Services Charter which governs services to Canadians. The Charter states, every five years after its adoption which was in 2009, the charter must be assessed to adapt the charter to changing requirements.
We believe that through its cuts Canada Post Corporation is preparing the terrain to privatize Canada Post instead of trying to save and improve it.
We know a recent study, commissioned by the Harper Government in 2013, (and which the public has not been allowed to see), examined possible privatization.1
Privatization would have disastrous consequences for the Canadian public, by resulting in even more increased prices and poorer service, particularly for rural Canada. Privatization would undoubtedly mean the closure of many rural post offices and the loss of even more jobs.
We also know that the Canadian public opposes privatization.2
Canada's Post Office is an important public service and we should be preserving and protecting it.
The results of the survey "Why Canada Post needs to offer banking services" are available here.
Brenda McAuley is the National President of Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association.
Note: Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association represent over 8,600 employees of Canada Post who work in over 3,300 rural post offices across Canada. These offices make up over 50 per cent of all postal outlets. Our membership, consisting of 95 per cent women, serves communities in every province which rely on our commitment and our jobs where employment opportunities are often limited.
1 This September 2013 study commissioned by the Prime Minister's office on the possible privatization of Canada Post was recently revealed by Blacklock's Reporter July 2014.
2 A Stratcom national survey conducted between April 9 and 10, 2014, shows 64.4 per cent of Canadians oppose the privatization of Canada Post.
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