Closing of Rural Post Offices

It seems to me that if Canada Post insists on this privatization route, they shouldn’t make it prohibitively expensive to start a postal outlet: they usually cost over $50,000 to open, and more to maintain. Profits are slim. Trouble is, small owners are being squeezed out by the high costs imposed by Canada Post. And what of the small towns that don’t have players big enough that can afford an outlet?

http://lakesuperiornews.ca
September 25, 2009

Closing of Rural Post Offices

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Geraldton Post Office Bruce Hyer, MP

THUNDER BAY, ON - September 25, 2009 - Across our region and the country, problems with Canada Post are growing. We have two problems: threatened rural service, and urban service that is undermined by Canada Post itself. said Bruce Hyer, MP, Thunder Bay Superior North,

Rural post offices are absolutely vital to the identity and economic stability of small communities across Canada. They provide an essential service. While there has been a “moratorium” on rural post office closure for some years, that doesn’t include places where a Postmaster retires, and Canada Post doesn’t find a replacement. If a local business has a franchised outlet, the outlet is lost if the business closes. The end result is the same.

Northwesterners have been worried, and places like Nakina, Beardmore, Terrace Bay, and others have petitions to keep their post office open. The Minister recently wrote Greenstone Council reassuring them about the moratorium. But Constance Lake, just to the east, has had no local service since December when the store housing its postal outlet closed. The problem with relying only on franchised local outlets is that it’s getting harder for small businesses to make a go of it running an outlet. Problems in another part of our region illustrate this.

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Canada Post has opened its first post office in downtown Port Arthur on Water Street in 1882. But several months ago the only remaining postal outlet there was forced to close. People now have to travel far to get basic postal services. Many local residents are mobility impaired, don’t have cars, or have to mail large packages too cumbersome to take on the bus. And this isn’t good for local business.

That last outlet was housed in a small business, and apparently Canada Post demanded so much additional space for the postal side that they would have had to close their main business to accommodate it. In many ways they were driven out of the business. I started a petition to restore postal service in the north core, and tabled it in Parliament last spring. Now Canada Post says they will open an outlet in a new Shoppers Drug Mart about a mile south. While this is a victory of sorts, it still would be better to have one closer to the downtown core itself.

Another small family store with an outlet in the north end of the city was next. Canada Post came to the owner and said he had to spend $10,000 for computerization, on top of the $12,000 he was forced to spend on “image” improvements recently. The small business couldn’t afford it, so he was told that he was liable to lose the postal outlet. It seems to me that if Canada Post insists on this privatization route, they shouldn’t make it prohibitively expensive to start a postal outlet: they usually cost over $50,000 to open, and more to maintain. Profits are slim. Trouble is, small owners are being squeezed out by the high costs imposed by Canada Post. And what of the small towns that don’t have players big enough that can afford an outlet?

Canada Post has a responsibility to provide affordable, universal postal service to all Canadians – it says so right in their new Charter, released this month. This includes providing adequate post offices so that services are indeed accessible and inexpensive. Increasing privatization has been the unfortunate direction, but many franchised outlets have closed, leaving communities and businesses without local service. With this trend, rural and Northern areas, where it is more expensive to provide postal services, could very well be the most at risk.

http://lakesuperiornews.ca/News/News2009/ClosingofRuralPostOffices/tabid/1578/Default.aspx


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