I call the meeting to order.
Welcome to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. This is our 35th meeting for the year, but I think it's our sixth or seventh meeting on this consultation tour.
Gentleman on the panel, you would know that the minister responsible for Canada Post, the , has engaged in a very extensive consultation process concerning the future of Canada Post.
Phase one was the establishment of a task force, the mandate of which was to examine and make suggestions as to how Canada Post could remain financially viable in the years to come.
Phase two of that consultation process is what we are doing here tonight, and that is engagement with Canadians, whether individuals, organizations, municipalities, or anyone with something to say about Canada Post and how they would like to see Canada Post continue to operate now and in the future. We're here today on a coast-to-coast-to coast consultation tour speaking with all of you and getting your views on how you see the future of Canada Post and how that will unfold.
The process this evening is very simple. We are asking all panellists to deliver an opening address of five minutes or less, which will be followed by a series of questions and answers from all of our committee members. As I said to Mr. Dyer, just a few moments ago many times panellists do not get through their entire five minutes before I interject, but we have found that during the question-and-answer process, almost all of the information that you may have wanted to present in your opening statements will come out, and that's truly when we get some meaningful dialogue. I would ask you to try to keep your opening statements as short as possible, recognizing and respecting the five-minute time limit that we have, and we'll get into questions immediately after that.
Our first speaker is Mayor Gosine.
Go ahead, Your Worship, for five minutes, please, with an opening statement.
Canada needs postal banking in rural communities.
Thousands of rural towns and villages in our country do not have a bank. The community of Bell Island is one of those rural areas, but we do have a post office that could provide financial services. As well, nearly two million Canadians desperately need an alternative to payday lenders, and a postal bank could be that alternative.
A point to consider is the failure of the existing banking system to answer the needs of individuals in rural regions. Postal banking could be a low-cost alternative to traditional banks. CUPW national president Mike Palecek stated that profits earned through postal banking could help the post office thrive as a public service and provide returns to the communities.
Postal banking is supported by the postal workers union, anti-poverty and community groups, and over 600 municipalities in the country. I was a representative in March in Ottawa. It's already instituted in many parts of the world and it existed in Canada until 1967. In small-town rural Canada, 3,326 communities have a post office, but there is no bank or credit union branch. According to my research, I think it may have been in 1969 rather than 1967.
According to my research, minorities, low-income residents, younger households, and the unemployed are particularly impacted by a lack of traditional banking. Reports indicate that nearly half of our households in this country are financially underserved. In my research on this important issue, I learned that Japan Post Bank is the largest deposit holder in the world, and the postal service of China serves over 400 million customers. Something must be working.
If we don't provide banking service to rural Canada, which experts say can be done through postal banking, then we're not providing the fair financial opportunities that exist elsewhere for rural and small-town businesses and homeowners.
I do know it exists in Brazil and Italy
I know that the banking institutions are saying that there are lots of banks, and I've read that there are close to 2,500 banks in the country, but just to give you an indication, I have a clear example here today. I come from a community that has no bank. We have a little ATM machine; you can take money out, but you can't put money in. The ferry broke down at 10 o'clock and the next ferry landed me right here at this hotel at ten to seven. We have no bank, and if a post office were open all day today, it could service the people. When I was in Ottawa, they asked me if we have any type of banking, and I said, “Yes, two—shoe boxes and mattresses”, because that's what a lot of seniors are using when they can't go to the bank.
I guess that's my story, and I'm trying to promote our town as well as any other rural town in this country.
Good evening, panel, and thank you very much for this opportunity to speak.
The last time public consultations were held in St. John's, Newfoundland, was in 2011, and we missed it. I received a phone call from a counterpart at the students' union who said that Canada Post management showed up in St. John's, invited a few friends, had a meeting, and then flew out.
My name is Craig Dyer. I am the president of the St. John's local. I represent 350-plus clerks, letter carriers, technicians, and rural and mail service couriers in the Avalon Peninsula area of Newfoundland.
These workers are parents, grandparents, community volunteers, Girl Guide leaders, C.L.B. leaders, volunteer firefighters, and coaches. In their hours off, they work with both the youth and the elderly. They are your neighbours, your relations, and your friends. They are hard-working, honest people who should be treated with respect in the workplace, but they aren't.
I've worked 27 years as a letter carrier in St. John's, and the sky started falling the second day. They are mismanaged, and we see it every day. Every day we watch the corporation waste money without any accountability, just because they can.
I would like to speak today about forced overtime, jobs, and service.
In the past five years in St. John's, we've had two major restructures reorganizing the letter carrier routes. One occurred in 2011 when the corporation invested $2 billion in the postal transformation. This started in 2007, and at the time we were in a global crisis. The federal government was pumping money into the economy and creating jobs, while Canada Post spent $1.8 billion—which is what your document says, but we believe it to be a little bit more, almost $2 billion—to eliminate jobs.
As a result, a grievance was filed, the corporation failed, and we lost 28% of our jobs then. We recouped a small percentage.
In 2015, just after the federal election, the corporation implemented community mailboxes and took service away from the door-to-door delivery of almost 28,000 residents in St. John's, Mount Pearl, and Kilbride. As a result, the corporation came back and did another reorganization, because they recognized there was an error, and we did create a few more jobs, but at that time we lost approximately 40% of our workforce.
These losses were not due to volumes but to changes in the way that Canada Post processes the mail. Since these changes, forced overtime has become a major issue in the St. John's depot. Staff is down significantly, and overtime is through the roof. We have letter carriers who now make $30,000 to $50,000 a year in overtime while people sit at home without a job.
The majority of the letter carriers only want to work their eight-hour day. I've been a carrier for 27 years, and I enjoy my job, and I enjoy working eight hours a day, but I also have a life. We have families and we have community commitments, but that isn't happening, and now the workers are feeling it. They are being harassed, mismanaged, intimidated, and bullied on a daily basis. You have to get your route done.
The employer, locally, doesn't trust our valued employees. They believe that the workers are the problem, and not the routes.
My counterparts and I have arbitrated several arbitration cases that were proven wrong, and we did receive more jobs back.
For years now workers have been forced to work overtime at time-and-a-half and two times their regular rate of pay with the hope of getting their routes done, while this work could be done more cheaply and more people could be employed. Daily there are arguments in the letter carrier depot about staffing and overtime. If you don't finish your route, you are reprimanded; if you do work overtime, you are reprimanded.
I'll just quickly go through some examples that are actual events that happened.
We have a volunteer fireman in our depot. He received a five-day suspension for refusing to work overtime, in the dark, and in unsafe conditions. He lost five days' pay. He had to go home to his partner and tell her why. Three years later we arbitrated, and of course the arbitrator ruled in our favour.
Another gentleman—and I can give names if you wish—received a five-day pay loss for not being able to justify his overtime. We sat in a meeting, and the person worked above pace expectations and should have worked more that day, but he received a five-day suspension. The supervisor who suspended him said, “Don't worry; you'll get it back in arbitration.”
I have a lot more, but I'd like to finish.
I talked to Mr. Whalen about this in his office. We have two women who recently returned from maternity leave. The employer has told one of them that they have to work overtime and find child care to take care of their child while they work overtime. One of those women has now moved to another job, and recently, within the last month, the other woman received a suspension because she has chosen her child over working overtime.
Canada Post can go in a favourable direction and we can create jobs in our community, just on the quantum of overtime and monies paid out.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Gary and Craig, for coming out today and providing your thoughts and feelings on Canada Post and what its future can and should look like.
Our introduction to this, Craig, was really during the campaign last year. We had some difficult conversations about the fact that although the Liberal campaign policy platform called for us to save door-to-door delivery, the limited way we promised to do that was by putting in a moratorium on future community mailboxes, then holding these consultations to figure out a proper way forward for Canada Post in some fashion.
The task force had a limited mandate and they talked about self-sustainability of Canada Post, but we don't feel bound by that. We want these consultations to be open, we want to hear from all parties about the future, and we are prepared to entertain everything.
Mr. Dyer, could you provide some information about the input and implementation of those community mailboxes right after the election here in St. John's East, and how that made the community feel, and whether or not the community was consulted?
To my knowledge, in 1968 Canada Post banking stopped in Canada. That was in the main part of Labrador, and it was a service that was provided. As Mr. Gosine said in his opening, it has shown a way to be very profitable. For me, using our network of 6,000 postal outlets across the country provides plenty of opportunities. There is one for postal banking and there are others for providing services and generating revenues.
These revenues have been used in other countries to offset the decline in letter mail and to assist with the service that is being provided. I think it's a great opportunity.
I represent 30 post offices in the Avalon Peninsula. If you go down to Burnt Cove, which is a small community, there is no federal identity there, but at the same time there's a post office. That post office can provide many federal services. It can provide postal banking. It could be a hub for the community. I believe these post offices are underutilized.
If you're going to provide a service, then you can charge a fee. There are opportunities to generate revenue. The studies are out there. I know our national officers presented their position. The biggest question I have is about whether we received the report from Canada Post, the 600-page redacted report. Has the committee seen it, and is it feasible? From Canada Post, my understanding says it's a win-win. If we can generate revenues by providing services to Mr. Gosine's community and use the post office in Bell Island to create jobs, then I think everybody wins, and I think there's an opportunity that we should explore in the future.
For my counterpart from Labrador, their post office is flourishing because of the Internet online services. If you have a community like Labrador, and if they have to rent out more space because of the online world, then why wouldn't we put more services into that post office, generate more revenues for Canada Post, and offset the costs of door-to-door delivery?
As a trade unionist and an organization, we approached all levels of the government leading up to the election, and we did make it an election issue. Many parties made serious commitments. My understanding from the Liberals was that they would restore door-to-door delivery and they would do this review.
When I was on Royal Oak Avenue in Kilbride and I got the moratorium on community mailboxes, it was about a week too late. Our hope is to convince the panel and the government that door-to-door delivery is a viable solution.
Here's a quote from the year 2000: Canada Post and CUPW negotiated the removal of community mailboxes to the sum of 150 full-time jobs. In St. John's, Newfoundland, we've removed 111 CMBs, or community mailboxes, and we created one job. Guess what? The letters that were sent out from the corporation from Mr. McNeill, who I think was the delivery service officer out of Halifax, said we were giving you the best service possible, but door-to-door delivery is the best service possible.
I find it hard that the corporation would put out numbers like $268 for door to door versus $127 for mailboxes. That's what people tend to focus on. That's an average. I don't believe doing the math is reflective. I ask the panel, have they asked the corporation to show how on average it's $268 to provide a service to the door?
I'd like to thank the both of you for appearing before the committee today. I'm glad to hear what you have to say and to be in Newfoundland and Labrador, a first for me.
It's interesting to note that, in our discussions on Canada Post over the past few days, we've heard facts and statements that are sometimes different and sometimes the same.
Today, I listened to you talk about routes, letter carriers, and mandatory overtime. That gives me an opening to discuss something I was wondering about.
If I understand correctly, the problem you're experiencing is local in nature. It may be a problem specific to St. John's, where considerable overtime is necessary.
In other places, I've heard about letter carriers who are paid their eight hours a day regardless and who, if they finish their route in less than eight hours, can help out with the mail on another route. It's not overtime, technically speaking, but they are paid overtime within their eight-hour shift. Obviously, if they work more than eight hours, then, they are doing real overtime, in my view.
Is that possible? Am I wrong about that?
No, you're absolutely correct.
Prior to 2011, the day was evaluated at eight hours, 400 minutes, and the volume fluctuates from day to day to day. What was happening after the last two restructures was they made the routes that tight, or they made the routes well over eight hours a day. That is not happening, but there was a time when, if the flight never showed up or the trailer never showed up, you might get your work done in six hours and there might be a portion of another route available, and article 17.04 says you could bid to work on that route and get paid at premium rates.
That is factual, but that's not what it is today. Today many workers, with the reduction of routes, now are forced to work eight, nine, 10, or 11 hours a day on their own route to get their work done, and I'm an example. I worked last week. Monday I took some time off to go cook for soccer players. I volunteered all year, so I took two hours off, and it cost me my leave. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I worked a combined nine and a half hours overtime on my own route, which was nine and a half hours that I didn't get to see my family. My son was in bed three nights, and I was told to work it or be disciplined. That's wrong. There were people sitting home—
From my 27 years' experience, I do not trust them. I have engaged in many consultations concerning issues in our plant and have come forward with ideas to save money, to make things better, to better accommodate the corporation and their goals, only to be told no.
As I said, last week I attended a consultation on 11 routes. It was already predetermined what was going to happen. To the input from me or the people I represent, who were sitting at the table, we were told, “No, we can probably fix it later”, so there is a trust factor there.
What we do in St. John's is try to consult. We try to bring issues to the forefront before going to arbitration. There is a complaint stage in our collective agreement. We try very hard to resolve issues. If you look at our record, St. John's, Newfoundland, is probably one of the highest per capita for grievances filed, and it should never be. We understand the corporation. We understand that they need to be self-sustainable. We are not out to create jobs that are not productive. We are out to serve our community. That's why we find it so difficult to have trust in our management, because it starts from the top down.
I found out about the five-point plan when I was delivering mail on Duckworth Street. I was walking into the Fraize law office when several media people called me and told me that the corporation was implementing this five-point plan. Nobody—local, regional, or national—had the courtesy to contact me or anybody in my position to make us aware. They just put it out into the media and blindsided us.
Just to speak to that, we do have a highly trained staff at Canada Post in our retail section. Right now they also do MoneyGrams and money orders, so they do provide some kind of financial services. We don't just sell stamps or deliver parcels; we do a full range of things. We did student loans here locally, so there is an opportunity.
Whether it's full-fledged banking I can't say, but I know Mr. Gosine's community, and they have nothing. Would you be putting one downtown on Water Street when there are three banks down the road? Probably not, but there's an opportunity there to investigate, do your homework, put the service in place, and generate revenues.
The studies have shown that these other countries have generated revenues through postal banking, yet Canada Post management will not share the report they did that said it was a win-win. Why would they not show it if there's an opportunity to generate revenues and provide a service to many communities—and we are a service, not a business—from coast to coast to coast? We have more offices than Tim Hortons has franchises, so we're out there. Why wouldn't the government take on the opportunity to enhance these communities by providing postal banking, Internet services, and hubs?
Yes, there would be a big change, but that's what the union is willing to work for. The union is willing to work for change. We're not saying that this is going to mean carrying mail every day. Things have to change. Why wouldn't we change to generate revenues when it's been proven in so many other countries, and the skill is there?
Thank you very much for the invitation to present. I'd like to welcome you to Newfoundland and Labrador. I'm impressed that you have included us in your nationwide consultations, because quite often we're left off the mark.
I'm here on behalf of Empower, the Disability Resource Centre. We have 450 members and we provide approximately 10,000 services annually throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are a cross-disability organization, supporting people with disabilities to live independent lives. In 2015 there were more than 73,000 people here in our province who had a disability.
First and foremost, we must remember that Canada Post has a mandate to provide universal services. We all have the right to mail services, whether we have a disability or not. However, in any changes you are making to Canada Post, I would ask that consideration be given to people such as me, who have a disability—for instance, people who use a wheelchair and can't get to their mailbox, or those who have agoraphobia and are afraid to leave home.
As we've seen, people do not like change and they don't react well to it. When change is not communicated effectively, that compounds the problem.
I have five very short recommendations.
Number one, ensure community mailboxes are accessible and safe. This means access for anyone, anytime, no matter what the mobility is, and it means through all seasons. We've had instances of the snow not being cleared or conditions being too icy to allow people to get to the existing community mailboxes. Canada Post has not been clear as to the area around the box they are responsible to clear snow from. This impedes anyone who has a mobility issue from getting to their mailbox and getting their mail.
Community mailboxes also need to be placed in safe areas, where vulnerable populations will feel less vulnerable and more safe. One of our consumers who was unable to reach her mailbox called the toll-free helpline and was told to get someone else to get her mail. That's not a solution. It's not effective for our consumers who want to live independently. It also puts them at risk of someone else knowing their business, tampering with their mail, and theft. We need to find a better solution for those who require accommodation.
Number two, avoid barriers. If you are accommodating someone and asking them to provide a letter from a doctor, this can be cost prohibitive, or they may not even have a doctor. Please consider this when you're looking to make accommodations for people.
Number three, provide additional services. Postal banking is an opportunity to have banking services in communities where none exist. I know it would be beneficial here, as we have many rural areas in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Number four, communicate changes effectively. Personally, I believe Canada Post is near and dear to people's hearts. It's like ice hockey, maple syrup, and health care. We don't want Canada Post privatized, so any changes to it must be communicated effectively.
Number five, partner with independent living centres such as ours. This would help in communicating your message effectively to consumers. Whatever changes and decisions you make, they must be communicated effectively to the community, and we can help do that.
Thank you for your work thus far, and I congratulate you on your thoroughness.
Dear members of Parliament and the standing committee on operations and estimates, thank you for the opportunity for the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, Newfoundland and Labrador, to be consulted about the Canada Post review process.
Currently it's estimated that one in five people in Canada live with disabilities. That's 3,775,910 individuals who will be affected by the decisions that are made with regard to postal service and how Canada Post as a crown corporation moves forward.
In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, with close to 75,000 citizens in this province having at least one disability, the concerns about changes in service for persons with disabilities become even more discouraging as we reflect on the changes made in the metro St. John's area, and to our rural and remote communities where services and provisions are even more at risk and bring even more challenges to access and equity.
The major concerns in this province for persons with disabilities are as follows: the ending of home mail delivery service or reduction in service, access and safety of community mailboxes, the lack of independence and privacy given to persons with disabilities with the changes in service, and persons with non-visible disabilities not being afforded the rights of access to accessible services based on medical regulations.
To end door-to-door delivery would have many negative impacts on persons with disabilities. Converting the mail service to community mailboxes increases barriers in the built environment for persons with disabilities, whether the community mailbox is difficult to reach because of the height of the box location, uneven or icy snow-covered terrain, difficulty or inability to read the box number because of low vision or disability, and increased safety risks of accessing boxes on busy roadways or in poorly lit post offices during off-hours.
Home delivery is part of a personal safety plan for persons with disabilities. Being told that you should ask a family member, friend, or caregiver to pick up your mail on your behalf as a solution to inaccessibility of community mailboxes removes the independence and privacy for persons with disabilities, independence and privacy which are afforded to the rest of the citizens of this province. Giving the suggestion as a solution to the mail retrieval process removes the equity which persons with disabilities should be afforded.
Beyond just the autonomy that door-to-door service provides for persons with disabilities, there are serious concerns about safety and fraud that allowing someone else to pick up your mail generates. Persons with disabilities are at greater risk of being financially abused or stolen from, and this can be exacerbated by having to ask someone to pick up your mail. If you are in a shared, supportive housing situation with someone you don't know, and thus sharing a community mailbox with essentially a stranger, the possibility that your mail could be tampered with, stolen, or inadvertently lost is out of your control. You could not receive notice of appointments or change in wait-list for programs you were trying to access. You could lose benefit cheques.
Having your mail pass through more hands increases the chance of error, fraud, and distrustful situations. Individuals with mental illnesses such as agoraphobia, paranoia, or post-traumatic stress disorder may find it impossible to get to the mailbox. Others who deal with chronic illness or episodic disabilities may also experience additional fatigue or pain that would prevent them from getting to a community mailbox before parcels are returned to the sender or the box runs out of space to hold their mail.
The need for proof of eligibility for service becomes another barrier to service for persons with disabilities. The difficulty is not only financial, but also how the scope of criteria is developed and how that could be exclusionary to persons with non-visible disabilities. Assessing a family doctor is becoming more and more difficult in this province, especially in rural communities, and just having the ability to get such an approval process signed off could pose the greatest barrier of all. Regulating this kind of eligibility would be an additional cost and put persons with disabilities, especially those with non-visible disabilities, under surveillance.
If services are discontinued, we endorse the Council of Canadians with Disabilities' position to simply decrease the frequency of home delivery and not remove it completely. We call on the Government of Canada to uphold its commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities as set forth in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to afford the citizens of this province equitable service, especially those in rural and remote communities.
There is an interesting suggestion coming forward in terms of increasing the strength and delivery of service by this crown corporation. With regard to persons with disabilities in rural and remote communities, it's clear that a program like postal banking would create opportunity for persons with disabilities who do not have financial banking services in their communities.
As noted in the CUPW presentation materials, there could also be opportunities to leverage community development models such as those found in Calgary's Momentum to enhance financial literacy, to create microlending opportunities, and to assist unemployed or underemployed Canadians with disabilities with opportunities towards economic empowerment.
Investing in Canada Post and increasing its services to make it a stronger and more competitive force in the market is a great way for Canada to invest in and serve persons with disabilities, by showing them dignity, fairness, and respect in the form of mail delivery service and investing in the communities in which we live.
I sit here this evening as chair of the CARP St. John's-Avalon chapter. CARP, for those know the acronym, is the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. Our CARP membership in Newfoundland and Labrador is more than 1,000. In addition, I'm chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition of Pensioners, Retirees, and Seniors Organizations.
Seniors represent the single most powerful segment of our society. According to the census of 2011 for Newfoundland and Labrador, the population of persons aged 55 years and over is 163,880. If you extend the relationship of these persons to include adult children and other connected persons, the range of outreach and usage by those persons extends to well over 300,000. This represents real power when it comes to public awareness on issues that have an impact on them, and it is important that the voices of older persons are recognized with the information, knowledge, and credibility that they bring to matters influencing public policy, so CARP St. John's-Avalon chapter and the coalition appreciate the opportunity to bring forward the perspective of older persons through this presentation this evening.
It is recognized that the cost to deliver postal services has increased dramatically. In addition, the dynamics associated with living in a digital age must be examined and considered in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness and to reduce the burden of cost from the shoulders of the taxpayer. This is not an easy task, and there remains a highly emotional attachment to services that are available through personal delivery. This nostalgic attachment to receiving your personal letters, parcels at holiday times, and greetings and other holiday occasion cards should be maintained until such time as the demand for this service through Canada Post has ceased. In other words, until citizens have completely transitioned away from mailing cards or parcels or businesses have completely discontinued paper invoicing, advertising, and other services, home delivery must continue as an essential service.
If it is believed and accepted that all citizens, especially older citizens, have a right to essential services, and if it is recognized that home delivery is one of these essential services and that it must be delivered to the address of the recipient, then this service should not have to pay for itself. Do not look for the solution to be discontinuance of a service, but look to other ways to finance the service. If it is deemed an essential service, it becomes a service that is funded by the government, just like any other essential service, such as policing and fire services, health services, and so on. Some services, no matter how efficient one tries to make them, will always be in the red; then we have to simply accept this and move on without continuously charging the consumer for the service.
If the solution is to transition from physical mail delivery to online delivery, this will create more hardships than might be necessary. From the seniors' perspective, I have four points to make in that regard.
Many seniors do not have access to computers, and others are unwilling to enter personal information. A 2009 Statistics Canada study revealed that only 21% of individuals over the age of 75 were online. When CARP last polled our members, 70% indicated they were online, but half of those actually used computers that belonged to children or grandchildren.
Secondly, community mailboxes are not the answer. Besides being a community eyesore sometimes, they put the vulnerable at risk in two ways, as my colleagues have already indicated: in inclement conditions, the risk of a fall increases significantly, and even in good weather, the mailbox is a target for vandalism, as pension and other assistance cheques may be targeted by thieves, so security becomes an issue.
As well, just in case you're not aware, seniors have a tendency to get shorter as they get older. If your mailbox is on the top level, it's just impossible to reach the lock or to look inside your box to see what might be there for you to retrieve.
Relying on family members to pick up and deliver mail is not the answer. Senior persons are intensely private and wish to maintain their independence and dignity as long as possible. They prefer to keep their affairs to themselves, which is ensured when their personal mail is delivered directly to them. In addition, family members picking up and delivering mail also puts seniors at risk of financial abuse, as someone else will be collecting their cheques. Most recently, there's been an identification of problems with the locking mechanism on these mailboxes, to the extent that Canada Post is having to entertain certain excessive costs in order to replace those locks.
I have one last point to make, if I may. This has to do with the information in your discussion paper on Canada Post in the digital age. I offer a final point on the matter of the cost of running Canada Post by the federal government, which needs to consider all efficiencies. To a consumer, a post office is a post office, whether it's in a large corporate structure, a counter in a community drugstore, or a private room in a home in a very remote area. As long as the Canada Post sign is visible to the customer and personal service can be accessed more easily, take the actions that are needed for cost efficiencies to physical locations while still maintaining a service for seniors.
I'd like to thank you all for coming. It's great to hear the different perspectives from mayors, from unions, from business, and certainly from your membership and all the organizations you represent.
It's interesting, because during the campaign we made a promise to save door-to-door delivery. We would do that by halting the installation of the community mailboxes and then consulting about the future of Canada Post. We don't feel bound by the task force study. They made a number of recommendations for cost savings, for revenue generation, but we don't feel bound by their constraints. We want to hear from Canadians and come up with our own opinions on what the future of Canada Post should look like to make our own recommendations to Parliament.
In this regard, there are some nuanced points. I'm hoping that each of you can help answer them.
Canada Post talks about five types of delivery: to the end of the laneway in rural areas, to a rural post office, to a community mailbox, to a centralized location in an apartment building, and then something that they call “door-to-door”.
Of those five things, which are acceptable to you? Do you consider to end of your laneway and to a box within your home just as good as door-to-door delivery? I'd love to hear quickly from all three of you.
I used to live in Mr. Whalen's riding, and there are all types of mailboxes. It's interesting.
Ladies, thank you for joining us today. I appreciate your passion for helping others. It's quite amazing. All of you are very well-spoken. You made a lot of great points, and I appreciate that.
Canada Post, I understand, for areas with community mailboxes, will deliver mail once a week. They'll deliver to the box every day, and then on a designated day they pick up all that mail and bring it to the house. I've been told—and I have to look into it more—that they will do so once you fill out a form, but a doctor's note is not required, so there's no money involved in that.
Are all your organizations aware of that? They'll do it for seniors, disabled, and mobility challenged, as well.
Thank you, ladies, for joining us this evening. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to hear what you have to say.
Please know how empathetic I am to people with mobility issues or disabilities.
Now I'd like to get down to the fun stuff, not that this is a game—far from it. What we're doing here is very serious, but I'd like to issue you a challenge, if you will. As I listen to people speak, I am, of course, very sensitive to their situations. At the same time, however, I'd like to get answers to questions that may be a bit more complicated or difficult. I'd like to hear your opinion so that we can get a real sense of what's going on and ultimately make recommendations to the government.
We all know that service quality is important, as you indicated quite clearly. Canada Post provides what appears to be an essential service. People with mobility issues and disabilities have numerous requests at all levels. Today, though, we are talking about Canada Post. If you had to prioritize some of the most essential services, where on the priority list would you put the service provided by Canada Post? Where on the list of needs that people with disabilities have would home mail delivery fall?
Ms. Dawson, would you care to go first? Then, the others can respond.
You see, we're here to get creative ideas. We're not constrained by financial sustainability. I shouldn't say we're not constrained by it; we find solutions for it. We can't say, “Here is my problem, and my solution is cut, cut, cut.”
Here is a part of a problem. We need solutions for it. You came up with an interesting concept of postal banking. We've been listening to postal banking, and everybody created this brouhaha that postal banking may be terrible because you have to invest millions of dollars.
I did some research. Brazil has e-commerce banking. Its postal banking is e-commerce banking, and it is doing very well. I've just come back from India, and Narendra Modi wants to reach out and be inclusive. India has a huge rural population, so he has actually commanded his minister of finance to utilize the postal network to help get banking into rural communities.
Everybody has a smart phone, so my question is, do your seniors have smart phones or cellphones that would help them?