Canada Post’s (at best) mediocre service hit an all-time low yesterday as the Vancouver Main Post Office closed and sealed drive-by mail drops, forcing hundreds of people to line up at the counter just to hand in mail. This follows an announcement by Canada Post’s president two weeks ago, that the post office will no longer deliver mail to homes in metropolitan centres. As the only country in the developed, and undeveloped world, that can’t operate a proper mail service Canada should turn to the United States for help. Government, and opposition critics, have been mum on the issue since all parties and politicians have had a hand in creating this disgrace.
Hundreds of Vancouverites got an unpleasant shock yesterday when they tried to drop off mail through the Main Post Office drive-by chute on West Georgia Street and found the slots closed and sealed. Since there were only a dozen parking spaces many drivers scrambled to find parking spots in the area before lining up at the counter to hand in mail. Then they learned that their mail wouldn't be "picked up" until 5PM the next day. Since it may take several days to process mail dropped in boxes around town many residents and business people had made it a habit to drop off mail through the Main Post Office slots where it would land in the processing centre. It's not known yet if the processing centre at the Main branch has also been shut down as part of the service cuts, as counter staff were in no mood to answer questions.
It’s a fact that Canada just can’t operate a proper postal service that compares with even Egypt, not to mention Britain, Germany or the United States, where accurate and timely delivery of mail is a matter of national pride. In spite of the huge population it serves and the staggering volume of mail it handles United States Postal Service is one of the most reliable mail services in the world for timely delivery, accuracy and excellent handling of premium services. The only time USPS screws up is in trans-border mail when an item hits Canada. I have witnessed how a trackable U.S. Priority Mail piece arrived in Toronto overnight but took 4 weeks to arrive in Vancouver. Delivery to wrong address has been so commonplace I stopped complaining about it years ago. I’m still wondering about what to do for other people’s mail I received during Christmas including bank statements and envelopes marked confidential. I’m also wondering about what I’m missing and if they ended up in somebody’s trash, hopefully.
Problems with Canada Post started decades ago with labour problems that became a toss ball between politicians until it was transformed from a federal government department into a crown corporation in 1981. This did not end labour disputes, but introduced a profit motive and raised prices since the corporation was expected to be self-sufficient or even profitable. In spite of government backing and the resources at its disposal Canada Post Corporation lost money and was unable to compete with the private sector in premium services. The budgetary and service cuts announced around Christmas by the corporation and the federal government are an indication that Canada has given up on a proper postal service, and the post office as we know it may be eventually phased out.
Biggest hit by the demise of postal services will be small business and senior citizens, who will have to walk to the neighbourhood post boxes to check their mail. When asked how senior citizens will cope with this, Canada Post president Deepak Chopra hurled an insult by suggesting that they will enjoy the exercise. It may be time to ask Americans for help...