Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and witnesses, I think we'll get the meeting started. First, let me say it's great to be back in Moose Jaw. It's been a long three weeks, but it's always nice to be home.
Witnesses on the panel, I think you understand the process, but let me just go over a few opening comments so you completely understand how we're going to work things today.
As you undoubtedly are aware, the minister responsible for Canada Post, has initiated a fairly widespread consultation process. Phase one of that process was to establish a task force, the mandate of which was to examine the financial viability and sustainability of Canada Post. They have completed their report, they have presented it to our committee, and we've had a chance to discuss that report with them. Phase two, however, is the reason we are here today. It is a cross-country tour in which we will go to every province and the Northwest Territories to speak with individuals, organizations, people representing seniors, people with mobility issues, and municipalities about their view of the future of Canada Post, and more specifically, whether they have any suggestions for the future of Canada Post, particularly when we're looking at the long-term sustainability of Canada Post. That's why you're here today.
We would like to hear your comments, your observations, and more importantly, some of your recommendations and suggestions.
Following your five-minute opening statements, we will have a round of questions from all of our committee members. We have found that most of the information that is useful for our committee comes out during the question-and-answer process in any event.
With those brief words, I think we'll get going. First up, representing the City of Moose Jaw, is Mr. Gulka-Tiechko.
Please, go ahead for five minutes, sir. The floor is yours.
Welcome to Moose Jaw.
I want to mention that I'm not bilingual.
Unfortunately, that's the extent of my French.
Thank you for this opportunity to present to the committee. My name is Myron Gulka-Tiechko. I'm the city clerk, city solicitor, with the City of Moose Jaw. With me is Michelle Sanson, who is our director of planning and development, also with the city. In usual circumstances our mayor, Her Worship Deb Higgins, would be making this presentation. As you know, municipal elections are pending on October 26, and our rules of conduct preclude elected officials from making formal appearances on behalf of the city during the election period.
On behalf of the City of Moose Jaw, we extend the welcome of our city to this committee. We hope you've had an opportunity to explore, especially our historic downtown. We are, I think, understandably proud of the efforts that have been made by our citizens and businesses to preserve our historic uniqueness. Much in the same vein, we are also proud of the generations of Moose Javians who have contributed to building our city and our province.
According to the 2011 census, 31.4% of Moose Jaw's population was aged 64 and older. Many of our older citizens continue to reside in their own homes, particularly in older neighbourhoods. These are the citizens and the neighbourhoods that were most adversely affected by the withdrawal of door-to-door mail deliveries in August 2015. This withdrawal of service has been most difficult for our seniors and others with mobility restrictions. They are dependent on the mail service for delivery of bills and other communications, which are their link to the outside world. Many in this demographic are not computer-literate and don't have the means to interact with the electronic world. Many are dependent on others to collect their mail. They therefore have more erratic and less frequent access to inbound mail and communication.
This move by Canada Post was counter to the thrust of other levels of government to do everything possible to assist seniors in particular to remain in their homes and enhance their quality of life as long as possible. The recommendation of our city is that door-to-door service should be re-established. We recognize that this will involve policy and financial decisions by Canada Post and the federal government, which may take many months to resolve, leaving in limbo any immediate resolution for our citizens.
In the meantime, our seniors in particular will enjoy a lesser degree of service than that enjoyed by their counterparts in the neighbourhoods of most other cities across the country. We pay the same postal rates but get a reduced level of service.
In addition to the central policy objection of the city, we are also concerned with the arbitrary manner in which Canada Post has essentially commandeered the use of city rights-of-way to erect 332 community mailboxes across the city without compensation. We acknowledge that over the past year we have received what we believe to be a highly inadequate offer of a one-time payment of $16,600 to forever relinquish any claim for the cost and inconvenience of these boxes across the city. Hopefully, in the question-and-answer period, we can get into some of the specifics of that inconvenience.
The city believes that a much more appropriate form and level of compensation would be an annual lease payment equivalent to current actual lease rates. Most of the community mailbox sites occupy a space of between 50 to 100 square feet. Current appraised lease rates for bare land in Moose Jaw would suggest that a collective lease rate for these sites would range from $3,300 to $6,600 on an annual basis. We would suggest that an inflation escalator of CPI would also be appropriate so that the payment did not devalue with the passage of time.
Canada Post enjoys a statutory exemption from taxation. In contrast, although other crown entities also are exempt from taxation, they pay what is called grants in lieu of taxes, or GILT, to municipalities where they operate. This is an attempt to at least provide partial compensation to the municipalities in which they operate. GILT payments provide some relationship to taxes that would be paid on assessable property values.
There are also, however, other models of compensation that have evolved to provide compensation to municipalities. Another prime example is that of a franchise fee. SaskPower, for example, levies a 10% fee on all electrical bills issued in Moose Jaw and other cities across the province, which are paid to that respective city. This yields a significant payment to the city that compensates for the fact that SaskPower uses city land to hold large tracts of infrastructure.
Without belabouring the point, the city's second key proposal is that, if community mailboxes are to continue to occupy 332 tracts of municipal right-of-way, they ought, in fairness, to provide some fair level of ongoing compensation to the municipality for the use of its land.
With that, we again thank the committee for an opportunity to present our concerns with respect to the withdrawal of door-to-door service and the need for ongoing compensation to the city if mailboxes are to remain the mode of service delivery.
We, of course, would welcome any questions from the committee.
My name is Harry Watson. I own and operate a grocery store advertising company called Triple 4 Advertising Ltd. It's located here in the city of Moose Jaw. I thank you for inviting me to speak today.
My company creates flyers as well as creating and printing various other signs material for independently owned grocery stores across four provinces.
The objective of my presentation is threefold: highlight the increased cost of distributing and mail via Canada Post, highlight the increased cost of postal mail versus courier service, and explain the issues encountered by having a postal code at the main post office instead of at our physical address.
Triple 4 Advertising Ltd. commenced operations in 1992. In the beginning, we circulated our flyers and sent all ad mail using Canada Post. Because of the cost, we have begun using alternate methods such as a website; a courier service; insertion into newspapers, which costs about 5¢ per copy; via transportation through our wholesale suppliers; hand delivery in small towns; and customer pickup at store locations.
In 2003, we sent out about 2,096,000 at a cost of 8.6¢ per flyer. In 2004, we sent out 7,000 less, but the cost was 8.9¢ per flyer. In 2015, the cost of a flyer was 14.28¢. This year in 2016, our cost per flyer is 17¢. That's a 97% increase in the cost of the flyers in that time. I'm in a very competitive position, I guess, because I'm in the grocery business.
In 1992, we sold a one-kilogram jar of Kraft Cheez Whiz for $5.88, and in 2016, we still sell a 900-gram jar of Kraft Cheez Whiz for $5.88. That's exactly 24 years later. In 1992, we sold cases of 24 355-millilitre Coca Colas for $8.99. In 2016, we sell cases of 24 355-millilitre Coca Colas for $6.99. That's 24 years later, but $2.00 cheaper. In 1992, we sold one litre of Heinz ketchup for $2.99, and in 2016, 24 years later, we still sell one litre of Heinz ketchup for $2.99. That is what competition will do in the marketplace.
In business we work very hard to take costs out of our business to stay competitive. In the case of Canada Post, with no competition, they continue to apply all cost increases to the customer as their costs continue to increase and their volume continues to decrease. That's not a winning formula in my world.
We have found that Canada Post shipping costs are dependent on the envelope, the package size and weight, and even the thickness of the envelope. With a courier, shipping costs are dependent on weight and type of packaging. Also, with a courier service, a business can negotiate based on volume. I would like to reiterate that there are lots of competitors in the courier business, and that is why in Saskatchewan it went from 423 in 2015 to 425 in 2016. Competition is a great marketing tool.
Another issue our mailing department is facing is that the various courier services require a postal code that coincides with the street address for address-finder validation. In my case, as in other businesses in our neighbourhood and around the country, our postal mail is not delivered to our building.
Instead, we have postal boxes that have the postal code set for the post office street address. For certain types of shipping, as well as receiving products, this has caused us some issues. For example, when preparing bills of lading or waybills from the Purolator courier system, it does not accept a postal box for either shipping from or to an address. It must be a street address. I did attach a copy of that.
There are other problems posed by not having a postal code to our building. As you may know, a postal code is more than just for shipping and receiving. With the nature of our business, we have a great number of vendor-suppliers who travel here from across Canada for meetings.
My name is Bernice Perkins. I'm the vice-chair of the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Organization. I welcome you to Treaty 4.
I'm here to disagree with the door-to-door service. We have a mailbox and, like the gentleman was saying, we can't get parcels delivered there. If we order materials for our organization, we have to use one of our home addresses in order to receive those goods.
I disagree with the boxes because of the access. My husband is disabled, and in the winter for him to go half a block, if it's slippery and there's snow in the way, he needs to drive. Moose Jaw is not the greatest for clearing our streets, so we're probably going to have snowbanks that make them inaccessible.
As to the security of the mailboxes, when they were first put up I had a number of different people tell me that the keys for their specific box would open other boxes. I haven't checked my key. I always forget about it, but that was a pretty big concern for me, whether someone was able to access my box. Then there is the vandalism of them. If someone could get into them, they would have access to everybody's stuff in that one mailbox, or maybe if they do all three or whatever.
Those are my concerns with the mailbox system that we have now. I much prefer door-to-door service.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you all for coming today. We look forward to hearing perspectives from municipalities, businesses, and indigenous groups. It's nice to have the wide variety.
We did have a great chance last night to walk around and see some of the historic sites. What has been done with some of the restoration in your city is quite nice.
In terms of this notion about Canada Post having externalized its costs by expropriating land for the community mailboxes without compensation to the cities and towns, what has happened in similar circumstances with other providers, other government agencies, and how do these GILTs work? What would you expect in general, over time, for Canada Post to pay, if they were to have to pay?
As the chair mentioned, we have been travelling coast to coast to coast. This is our last leg, and we're trying to see how Canada Post can be viable. Sometimes we are told it's the last bastion for services. There is this north and south divide. There's the economic divide. There's the rural, remote, urban, suburban, etc. We're trying to bring some cohesion, social and economic cohesion perhaps.
If Canada Post were to be viable as a business, what would you suggest it do? We need creative ideas, and if you have not thought through that one, you could always submit your input to the chair.
Mr. Gulka-Tiechko, how many of your constituents were affected by the shutting of door-to-door delivery?
To all of our witnesses, thank you once again for being here and for taking time out of your busy schedules. Should any of you have any additional information that you wish to submit for the benefit of this committee during our deliberations, please do so. You can contact our clerk and make those submissions directly through our clerk.
We will be tabling a report in Parliament, probably at the latter part of November, or at the latest, the early part of December. If you're going to submit additional information, I would ask that you do that within the next 10 days to two weeks at the latest.
Mr. Gulka-Tiechko, we're all politicians around this table, so please express our best wishes to Her Worship. We understand completely why she wasn't able to be here in person today with an election looming in just a few days.
Thank you, all.
We will suspend for a few moments while we wait for our next witnesses to approach the table.
My name is Lori Friars. I'm the coordinator of the Moose Jaw and District Seniors Association. With me is Wayne McGregor, the president of the association.
According to the 2011 census, the percentage of the population age 65 and older in Moose Jaw was 18.6%, compared with the national percentage of 14.8%. That percentage, I would assume, has only increased since 2011—and we heard from the city earlier that it is higher—because there was an additional 5% of Moose Javians who were age 60 to 64 at that time.
Over the past few weeks, I've spoken to a number of seniors to hear their thoughts about Canada Post. Those I spoke with all voiced that they felt Canada Post was a highly valuable public service that they wanted to see continue. For many seniors, the mail is their connection to their families. Families today are not just spread across the city, but across the country and the world. Many seniors depend on the mail system to keep in contact with their family, to send and receive greetings and packages on special occasions, and to pay their bills. According to the “Canada Post in the digital age” study, three in 10 Canadians prefer to receive paper bills to digital. This is particularly true with older Canadians. Some 47% of Canadians 60 years and older prefer paper bills. Many seniors do not have access to the Internet, or do not own nor have ever used a computer.
I asked one senior what her thoughts were on converting post offices to franchise outlets. Her response was that it was not a good idea, that it “would be giving up Canada Post's reputation.” When I asked what she meant by that, she said, “You know that the post office is dependable. When you go there, you know that you and your letters and your parcels are their number one concern. When you go to a franchise outlet, the mail is not necessarily their main concern. They're concerned about stocking the shelves, running the pharmacy, selling their product, etc. Sometimes you have to even ring a bell to get them to come from their other business to look after you at the postal station. So what do they know about the mail system?”
Most seniors I spoke to talked about the community mailboxes, so that's where I'm going to focus my presentation. I believe most of the homes in Moose Jaw, if not all, have community mailbox delivery. While seniors are learning to live with these boxes, they have concerns.
For seniors with mobility issues, getting to and from the mailbox, which is sometimes a block or more away, is difficult at best in the warmer months, and nearly impossible in the winter months. Imagine trying to use a walker or some other mobility device for a block to pick up your mail through snow, ice, or even just a build-up of leaves. This is assuming that it's a flat, level sidewalk, which we all know is not the case. According to Parachute Canada's “The Cost of Injury in Canada” report from September 2015, seniors were over four times more likely to be hospitalized for injuries than people under age 65. At 76.5%, unintentional falls were the most frequent cause of injury hospitalizations in seniors. The older the senior, the higher their proportion of hospitalized injuries.
I spoke with one senior who had been homebound for a few months. When I asked why, she told me she had gone down to the mailbox and had become dizzy. She grabbed onto the mailbox. The next thing she knew she was waking up on the ground, having hit her head. That was nearly two months ago, and she still has not recovered.
Some seniors have weekly home delivery by Canada Post, and those who I spoke to said that while they appreciated the service, they felt that weekly wasn't enough. They rely on their families and neighbours and pay other people to check their mail on other days. Most seniors are on a fixed income and do not have the resources to pay someone to assist them with the mail. A lot of them weren't aware that this was even available.
The trend today is to have seniors remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Community mailboxes are one obstacle to this. When you have decreased mobility, it's difficult to get around your home. Imagine trying to walk across the street or down the block. Home mail service is one way to prevent injuries to seniors, but it's also a means of communication for some. With home delivery, you often know your letter carrier by name, and they know the people on their route. They would see if mail were piling up, and that was unusual.
Some people drive to the mailboxes, that's an option for some, but what about seniors who no longer have a driver's licence?
A couple of other things that were identified was the cost of letter and parcel postage. The cost of stamps most thought was reasonable, but delivering packages, particularly internationally, was very expensive. There were concerns about damage to packages when outsourced and who would be responsible, and concerns about emissions from all the vehicles going to the community boxes.
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak to all of you.
First, I'd like to recognize the Treaty No. 4 land that we are on here today.
My name is Julee Sanderson. I'm the local president of CUPW in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, so I'm visiting here in this beautiful city of Moose Jaw.
As a trade unionist, I spend most of my time concentrating on grievances, bargaining contract interpretations, daily discussions with my employer over working conditions, and issues, many of which relate to CMBs, community mailboxes, their location, frozen locks, access to those CMBs, snow and debris removal, and buildup of flyers, which is a major issue.
For years my union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, has implemented social policies that aim to protect fundamental environmental principles. CUPW is committed to being a progressive and creative force in areas of environmental stewardship and sustainable resource use. CUPW will seek to build solidarity between the union and environmental groups, with specific objectives that include demanding the federal government respect international treaties on climate change.
Everyone here today has a concern for their environment, for their working future, and for future generations. We need to ask ourselves what can we bring, what can we do to make some changes, and what sort of ideas can we bring to the table in discussions about the future of the public post office? With that in mind, CUPW worked together with some of its allies to develop what is called Delivering Community Power, a project that was done with CPAA, the Leap Manifesto, Smart Change, and ACORN Canada. All have partnered together to bring us the building blocks for a sustainable postal future that addresses economic, environmental, and social issues, all at the same time.
Our post office can become a centre of community care and economic development, all while bringing down emissions. Some consider the post office past its prime. The last decade has seen many efforts to cut, devalue, and undermine this quintessential public service. Most of these moves have been fiercely resisted by people across this country. Ninety-two per cent of people polled during the task force review believe that door-to-door service is essential for people with mobility issues. What if our cherished national institution with its vast physical infrastructure and millions of daily human interactions could offer us something different? What if the post office could play a central role in building our next economy that is made more stable, more equal, and less polluting.
Some people think of Canada Post as just letters and stamps. In our next economy our postal service could deliver everything from food to clean energy and create thousands of green jobs in the process. Canada Post is this country's largest transportation and shipping network, with over 15,000 vehicles, and we, as Canadians, own it. With the largest public fleet in the country, federal infrastructure funding could add a nationwide network for charging electric vehicles, which would act as a springboard toward a shift to low-carbon vehicles. Electric charging stations could be added to every post office, which would encourage public use and build a solid infrastructure for electric vehicles.
There are almost twice as many post offices as there are Tim Hortons and McDonald's combined, with over 6,300 offices countrywide. How can we use this powerful network to drive the transition to a zero-carbon Canada? We could put solar panels on our post offices with retrofits, to save energy. We could add charging stations to power our postal fleet and your electric car. Post offices could also provide banking services, without the big banks' unfair fees, and finance green energy infrastructure and businesses. Last year alone big banks in Canada raked in profits of over $35 billion across this country, all while cutting jobs and raising their fees for day-to-day services. Millions of Canadians do not have bank accounts at all. Access to banking is limited in indigenous communities, where only 54 of 615 first nations communities are served by local bank branches. All the while over two million people in Canada use payday lenders every year. Those payday lenders prey on the underbanked, the poor, and those who can least afford to be charged interest rates of over 400%.
Every year, workers in Canada transfer billions of dollars to family members overseas, but the cost of sending them money can be as high as 20% on smaller amounts. These rates hurt the people who depend on them the most. Postal banking could provide basic financial services for everyone. From Confederation until 1968 post office savings were offered until the big banks opposed the post office and opposed those services.
We could have a fleet of electric postal vehicles built by unionized workers here in Canada. In Germany, many municipalities now produce more power from renewable sources than they consume, creating over 400,000 new jobs in the process. The postal service could deliver affordable food to remote communities in the north and support digital innovation across the country. Instead of relying on the northern food program, which gouges the people in those remote communities, the post office could easily turn back to its practice of shipping food along with the mail it ships anyway. With expanded door-to-door services, postal workers could coordinate with other care services and check in with people who sign up, thereby helping us to live in our homes for longer as we age.
We are ready to leap to a greener economy in caring for the earth and for each other, and a revitalized postal service can deliver that. From coast to coast to coast, support for this vision is growing. We are the stewards of this earth.
Thank you for the opportunity.
My name is Shelly Krahenbil. I'm the president of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association here in Saskatchewan. Nationally, CPAA represents postmasters and assistants in 3,229 rural post offices, with approximately 8,700 members across Canada and over 1,300 here in Saskatchewan.
According to Canada Post's own reports, rural and corporate post offices are the most cost-effective method of mail delivery. If this is the most cost-effective method of delivery, I question why Canada Post is recommending that 800 of the most profitable corporate offices be replaced with franchises. Is this the beginning of the end of corporate offices and the path to privatization?
We are part of the largest distribution network in Canada, a fact that Canada Post proudly points out to its customers. In spite of these facts, Canada Post has been reducing rural postal service and closing down its delivery network since the moratorium, even before it announced the five-point action plan.
In many cases in rural Saskatchewan the postmaster in these small communities is actually subsidizing Canada Post through supply of the premises and their wage structure. In some situations the postmaster is paid less than minimum wage for a portion of their hours in a day. With this in mind, reduction of hours in these offices makes a position unattractive, resulting in resignations. The vacant positions are then difficult to staff and the offices close, therefore reducing postal service.
According to a study commissioned by CPAA and conducted by Anderson Consulting, over 55% of franchises created by Canada Post that replaced corporate offices closed, making it necessary for the customers to travel longer and longer distances. We have communities where the commute to the post office to collect a parcel is greater than 75 kilometres. This presents a hardship, especially to our seniors, but also the community as a whole.
The franchise post office does not, in our opinion, give Canadians the same service as the corporate post office. In rural Canada the franchise employees' first loyalty would be to the franchise's host business. Canada Post provides training to only one employee and the rest is trickle-down training. Franchisees often ignore new products and services, hours of operation, and other commitments because the business is more complex than they bargained for. The franchise model uses rural and suburban mail carriers and community mailboxes to achieve delivery, which costs much more than the centralized rural post office.
When Canada Post closes rural post offices, it contributes to the demise of the business district of the town. With the rural post office the residents have to come to town, and typically will spend money in other businesses in town. When forced to go to a nearby community to do their postal business, there is more incentive to shop in that community, not their own.
We strongly feel the study produced by the review committee dismisses several money-making initiatives that would improve Canada Post's financial position without further eroding postal service to rural Canadians. Canada Post prepared its own study, which called the postal banking initiative a win-win situation. There are over 1,200 communities in Canada that have corporate post offices but no bank. By using our current network we could provide these services to the community, once again enabling a vibrant rural community.
Using our current network to expand government services such as those offered in Service Canada outlets, at little cost to the government, would improve viability. We could use our current network to explore green initiatives such as recharging stations for electric vehicles, and Internet services in rural Canada, where it is often lacking.
We respectfully submit that there are ways for Canada Post to achieve its financial goals without the current trend of eroding service to rural Canadians. Please widen the discussion to take into account rural Canada and its potential demise. Thank you.
Thanks to all of you for coming today. It's great to hear all the different perspectives, certainly from groups representing seniors and unions. As someone who's coming from a rural background, I would say that our committee hasn't had much time as I'd hoped to visit rural Canada, so your perspective is particularly valued.
We were elected on a promise to grow the economy by protecting middle-class jobs and also on a commitment to help seniors enjoy a dignified retirement by, among other things, staying in their homes longer. When we talk about a transformation of Canada Post, we want to keep those ideas in mind.
Certainly, when it comes to saving the postal service we provide, we promised to do two things. One was to put a moratorium in place on the current implementation of of the five-point plan, and two, to do this consultation, which we've done, and we've learned a lot.
One of the things that's come up is the difference between what's expected of the postal service from rural Canadians versus what's expected by urban Canadians.
Ms. Krahenbil, do you think that maybe there should be a different management structure or a different approach between the types of services and the level of service provided in rural areas versus urban areas?
I understand that the problem between you and the management arises from the fact that the basic premises are not the same. You don't believe in the same analyses and statistics.
There was talk of a deficit of $750 million by 2026. Canada Post's 2015 annual report says that, under the current collective agreement, the employees hired after March 1, 2015, will receive lower wages, will be entitled to fewer annual sick days and will have job security only after 10 years of service.
I can understand why you're firmly opposed to a wage reduction, and that makes sense. Nobody wants to see their wage reduced. In your presentation, you said that, in the future, everyone will need to make efforts. Would it be important to accept fewer annual sick days since all Canadians are currently making efforts? Is your union ready to accept certain measures in addition to the wage reductions?
I see your point, Ms. Sanderson. As I told you, I can understand that a wage reduction is something sad and unfortunate. However, I think the reduction of annual sick days is a step forward given that most Canadians don't have this kind of privilege. I still see your point.
My next question is for Ms. Friars.
Canada Post may deliver mail to seniors once a week. If they have trouble going to the community mailbox, they'll receive the service once a week. Do you think it's a good measure? Are seniors familiar enough with this measure?
I am interested, and thank you for the question.
I take a fairly great interest in politics, and what's going on. I attended all the meetings that were held in Saskatoon where I live, regarding those who were running and the positions they were taking. I was quite clear in asking them what exactly their positions were, and I understood that most definitely the NDP were in favour of restoring door-to-door delivery, as am I.
I understood, probably halfway through the campaign, that some Liberal candidates came forward and made a very sincere implication, I felt, that they were in favour of restoring door-to-door delivery in addition to the moratorium on the closure.
I want to make this note. We had a flyer in Saskatoon for a Conservative candidate who was running there. That Conservative candidate had our photos, the “save door-to-door” signs on the front of their flyer that they distributed to every door in Saskatoon. They were using our motto, “save door-to-door” on their flyers, yet the Conservative government was opposed to such a thing, and was pushing to implement CMBs across the country.
What's going to be viable for them would have to be looked at by Canada Post, but I envision.... We go to a hotel. They have business centres. We could have a computer room set up if people wished to use it if they didn't have their own services at home.
If I may make a comment on your question about the franchises, I do not go to franchises because of my being a postmaster in a rural community and I support our corporate offices, but there are occasions when we, as CPAs, are in the cities and we have to do some mailing.
My secretary-treasurer brought to my attention that she went to a franchise at one point. It was close to Christmas, and they did not have the storage space for all the parcels. We, as corporate employees, are trusted. We're bonded. We go through high-security screening. When she was in this franchise, some parcels were in the public area. Anyone could have walked away with them. That's another point about the franchises.
Ladies, I just want to get back to the bit about postal banking and payday lenders. We had someone speak who used to be with the industry. He was testifying that people using payday loans are not street people. They're people with jobs and with bank accounts who just cannot access the cash.
How would you see postal banking working? Would you offer a similar service, but only to people without bank accounts? We hear a lot of myth creating that the payday loans people are vultures seeking money from a certain demographic, but it's their demographic that they're working with, and it's people with jobs who need the cash immediately. They also have a 20% crash rate on the cheques that are being cashed and being defaulted on.
How do you see Canada Post having a system set up to go after 20% of people who default on cheques through postal banking?
Ladies, I just want to get back to you. We're probably very short of time.
Across the country it's very different between rural and a big city with the needs for Canada Post. You spoke about Edmonton. That's where I live, and there are 25 Shoppers Drug Mart branches within five minutes of my house. If you ask someone in Edmonton about Canada Post, they say it's at the Shoppers Drug Mart. In the rural areas, where it's not the centre of the city, it's a completely different need.
We have 500 or 700 Canada Post corporate offices in large cities. Would you agree that maybe these should be wound down and turned over to franchised ones, and the money saved be used to subsidize sustaining rural post office boxes?
For sure. When I first started as a letter carrier back in 1997, we had letter carrier alerts. Letter carriers out on the street would be delivering to, say, an elderly couple that lived in a home, and sometimes we'd see their mail pile up. We would talk to them every single day, but they would never mention when they were going out of town, and you would see their mail pile up.
We had letter carrier alerts. We would come in and say to our supervisor, “Hey, Annie, so and so has not picked up the mail. The mail is piling up in her box.” The supervisor would then contact the city police department or the fire department and go there.
I have myself personally experienced where somebody's grandmother spent three days in a bathtub full of freezing water. Fortunately, she had access to a hot tap, but she was in a bathtub full of freezing water with a broken hip and unable to get out. The letter carrier notified the fire department, and she was helped.
Excellent. Thank you very much.
In general, for anyone on the panel, another common theme is whether its door-to-door delivery, the community mailbox, or travelling to get your mail, it seems like it's not one-size-fits-all. There are different solutions for different folks.
What would you say would be the key factor for citizens receiving mail or for employees in ensuring that it's the best possible fit with the demand and the service?
Maybe start with Mr. McGregor or Ms. Friars.
As a senior, I don't know whether it was noticeable or not, but there are a few of us around here that hold that position.
My biggest concern is that the advertising has told us, through the government, that the best way to look after seniors is to keep them in their homes as long as you can. That to me tells the whole story. If we're going to keep the seniors in their homes, we must have accessibility to the mail for as many reasons as Lori and Canada Post gave us. There are too many.
I have concerns. I could go through many of them. For instance, the postal boxes are being situated right on a junction, a T in the highway. You turn around in the middle of the street, the back of the street, kids are going to the playground, it just makes no sense. The placement of the boxes was brought up before. It's just safety in general.
I will cut it off at this point.
I want to thank all the panellists for being here, particularly Ms. Krahenbil and Ms. Sanderson. Thank you for taking the opportunity to present this afternoon. I'm glad we were able to get you to the table.
If there is additional information that you think would be of benefit to our committee as we conduct our deliberations, then I encourage you to make those submissions directly to our clerk. You can get the coordinates from Ms. Massicotte later, before you leave, and I would ask that if you're going to make additional submissions, then do that within the next 10 days or so, since we hope to be tabling our final report to Parliament by around the end of November.
Once again, thank you for all your testimony. It's been very well received.
The meeting is adjourned.