I would like to thank the members of the committee for inviting us back here. I'm once again accompanied by our chief financial officer, Wayne Cheeseman, and our vice-president of government relations and policy, Susan Margles.
I'll start with a few remarks and then we'll open it up for questions.
Last time we met, you were about to embark on a cross-country journey to talk to Canadians about the future of postal service. Over the last few weeks, you've heard a lot about Canada Post. You have seen the size, the scope, and complexity of our vast network in urban, rural, and remote communities. You have met a number of our employees who work hard to serve Canadians and are proud to do so. You have talked with people who really count on postal service.
As you witnessed, we are important to so many Canadians for many different reasons. For some, the postal service still provides an important connection to their community and to the rest of the country. For others, the postal service is crucial to their business and to the people they employ. You learned that countless charities rely on Canada Post to raise much-needed funds. This is an incredibly important institution, with over 250 years of history. We're not perfect, but Canadians still value the service we provide and the effort it takes to make it happen every day.
You have seen the challenges facing Canada Post up close. You have heard from many Canadians who are counting on us to secure a strong future for their postal service. Therefore, we must get it right. You have been asked to put forward recommendations that will not only shape Canada Post and the services we provide to Canadians, but they must also ensure the institution is on a solid financial footing for generations to come.
As I stated when we first met, the challenges facing the corporation are large. The solutions to them must match the enormity of the challenge. The task force studied the situation and confirmed that the need to transform the business is urgent and indisputable. The amount of mail in Canada has been declining every year for the last decade. Domestic letter mail volumes have declined 32%. Almost a third of our business has evaporated from its peak, and it will continue to do so. While understanding the massive impact that this decline is having on Canada Post is easy, unfortunately there are no easy solutions or silver bullets to fix the postal system. There's also no one-size-fits-all solution that will work in urban, rural, and remote communities.
The good news is that Canadians clearly understand that the postal system needs to change. That's what the task force found in their research as well. Canadians want Canada Post to continue to provide an important public service while remaining financially viable. To do that, we need to increase revenues while reducing our costs. You have heard some ideas to grow revenues over the last few weeks. The task force also looked at an extensive list of potential options before narrowing it down to the suggestions in the report.
I can tell you that at Canada Post we have looked at and will continue to look at any idea that could grow revenue. Finding the best options is not always easy, but we have had the most success when we asked three simple questions: Is it something Canadians want? Is it something we're good at? Will it add new revenue above and beyond any new costs?
One such example would be our strategic decision to leverage the power of our core delivery business to help kick-start e-commerce for Canadians' small, medium, or large businesses. We're definitely good at it. In fact, we deliver two out of every three parcels that Canadians order online. Canadians want more parcels every day. There are eight in 10 Canadians who are now shopping online, and they're doing so more often. As for new revenue, parcel revenue alone has jumped by more than $400 million since 2011. That's almost half a billion dollars in a few short years. It is no small feat for any corporation, let alone a crown corporation, to grow a revenue of half a billion dollars in such a short period of time. We achieved this growth by doing more than delivering parcels. We worked closely with Canadian companies to understand their changing needs and deliver innovative solutions that are relevant to them. When they succeed, we succeed.
Revenue growth is key to securing the future of the postal service. The difficult, but equally necessary, part is reducing our costs. Most Canadians understand that the size of the organization needs to change to reflect the new realities of a digital world, but they don't want to see Canada Post employees laid off or lose their jobs. Neither do we, but we must acknowledge that labour represents 70% of our total costs.
According to Ernst & Young's analysis completed for the task force, our labour costs are 41% higher than those of comparable businesses in the private sector. As we transition from a mail-centric service to a parcel-centric service, that's who we are competing with. At the same time, we have a mature workforce. The average age of our employees is 49. A large percentage of our employees, over 16,000 of them, are eligible to retire in the next five years. That means significant and necessary changes can be made to the postal system without the need for layoffs. That's very important. We can achieve the smaller workforce we need through attrition. Even if we implemented every suggestion put forward by the task force, we'd still be hiring people every year at Canada Post. Canada Post will continue to be one of the country's largest employers for years to come.
This approach is respectful to our employees. It allows them to retire knowing we're making the necessary changes to secure the company they helped to build and will depend on for their retirement. It also respects our collective agreements and the job security provisions for our employees. As you can see, the window to take advantage of attrition at Canada Post is relatively small. The task force highlighted this in their discussion paper, when it said, “Canada Post must realign and streamline operations during this time frame in order to take full advantage of this attrition window”. This adds urgency to work that you're doing to help define the postal service of the future.
I would also point out that reducing the workforce to align with future realities must continue at all levels in the organization. Since 2008, Canada Post's overall workforce has been reduced by more than 15%. While management represents about 5% of our employees, as a group it is 20% smaller today than it was in 2008.
Reducing costs requires change, and change is never easy. Canadians are ready for change, but they expect a healthy level of consultation to ensure we get it right. Finding common ground will be incredibly important as we move forward. We understand the expectations on Canada Post are high, and we are committed to doing a good job.
To see what's possible when we leverage the power of this incredible institution, you just have to look at how Canada Post delivers the holiday season. This is the time of year when Canada Post is at its best. We're already deep into our plans, knowing that the growth in e-commerce means Canadians are counting on us like never before. Parents and grandparents are depending on us to deliver their holiday shopping, and thousands of retail businesses are betting on us to make their holiday season a success.
It's not just about parcels. We will proudly be delivering every Christmas card and helping Santa respond to over a million letters from Canadian children. We will deliver thousands of catalogues, coupons, and promotional samples from all kinds of businesses. We will also help facilitate the transfer of funds at our post offices from new Canadians to their families around the world.
The postal system matters to this country, but it needs to change. If we do this right, it will remain a strong and relevant contributor to the lives and livelihoods of Canadians for years to come.
The work you are doing is incredibly important. On behalf of everyone at Canada Post, I would like to thank you for your efforts.
I will take some questions now.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thanks, Mr. Chopra, and thanks to your management team for joining us again today. We've had the opportunity to listen to many Canadians across the country over the past four weeks, and certainly in the 22 cities we were able to visit, we learned a lot.
What we have heard from Canadians is slightly at odds, it seems, from what the consultation Canada Post undertook a few years ago seems to have heard. We also heard about your consultations and whether people felt they were listened to or spoken to. One of the things that we heard was around optimistic views versus pessimistic views of the corporation. We heard about a desire for service focus, a desire for revenues, growing the parcel business, and responding to those business needs, and less of a concern from Canadians, much less, on the cost-cutting.
Another area where we heard a differential view, from my perspective, from the corporation, was around the need for seniors and disabled people to access community mailboxes. Back in the 2013 time frame you'd mentioned that people wanted to get out and about. We did not hear that from seniors and disabled people; they want to be accommodated.
My first question is, if 20% of families face some type of a disability or a mobility issue in their home, as we heard, how much will it cost to roll out a full accommodation plan not just to the community mailboxes that are proposed, or recently changed, but to the existing community mailboxes in suburban Canada? How would the corporation intend to deal with something like that?
Innovation has been at the core of virtually everything we've been doing over the last five years. When you grow a business that is roughly a $1-billion business to almost $1.6 billion, which we're forecasting in our parcel business, and going against globally capitalized competitors like UPS, FedEx, and others, it requires a great amount of innovation.
In 2013 we launched the Delivered Tonight product, which is the first of its kind in Canada where consumers can order a product by noon, or in some cases by 1 o'clock, and have it at their door by 6 p.m. That was a revolutionary service, which we have since launched in Vancouver and Montreal.
In late 2014 we launched FlexDelivery. That allows almost 40% of Canadian two-income families, who are not home during the daytime, to have their package delivered to a post office of their choice, any one of more than 6,000 locations, the one that's most convenient to their work or most convenient to their home. On their way home, they can pick it up. We have already delivered more than a quarter million packages in the short period of launch that we did in the early stages.
We have been innovating by partnering with some of the leading-edge companies like Shopify to make it easier for small businesses to use Canada Post as their carrier.
If you open a store at the Shopify platform—or for that matter, many other platforms—you never have to speak to anybody at Canada Post, and you are instantly enabled to offer the entire suite of Canada Post services, including track and trace, including analytics on their business, and best prices for small businesses are automatically enabled if they were to partner with any of the retail platforms.
Last year we introduced the most innovative idea in the concept store, in our retail store—North America's first drive-through parcel pickup centre. Again, Canadians are leading busy lives. Moms with young kids in their car seats, when it's winter and it's snowing, don't have to take them out of the car to go and pick up a package or to visit the post office. They can use the drive-through capability. In fact that was very well received in our first concept store in Richmond Hill, Ontario. We're now rolling out in a few other locations.
Much of our innovation has come from employee ideas and business ideas and retailers that are pure online players that have no store. We are offering our retail stores—
The ideas for both FlexDelivery and Delivered Tonight came from our employees who were interacting with the customers, asking large retailers what we could do differently for them that would help them grow their business. The customers asked for a pilot to do a same-day product such as Delivered Tonight.
In fact, that one required extensive collaboration with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. I applaud its co-operation on bringing that idea to life, because we needed a different cost structure. When you're launching an idea in a very competitive environment, you need collaboration, and if that idea takes off, yes, you can grow with it. Those are examples of the employee ideas.
Shopify came to us in 2011 for the first time—in fact, we talk to them virtually every day now—on the idea of making it easy for small businesses to deal with Canada Post. They said they have made it easier for businesses to get their PayPal account, to do a checkout engine, to do credit card acceptance. They asked why they couldn't make it easier for them to conduct commerce through Canada Post without having to open an account with Canada Post, without having to get a price structure with Canada Post. It is now a seamless process. When you open an online store at $25 a month with Shopify, you get Canada Post built in.
Those types of ideas have come from innovative leading-edge companies that are redefining retail for Canadians.
I think innovation...and we have half a billion dollars of revenue to show for it. This has been a remarkable journey of collaborating with small businesses, large businesses, employees, and our unions and is showing a really great result in an area that is highly competitive.
I would like to apologize to the committee members for our absence. Some Olympians came to the House of Commons to see us, including Antoine Bouchard, who is from my riding of Jonquière. He is a young judoka who almost landed a bronze medal, and I wanted to congratulate him. Again, my apologies to the committee members.
Welcome, Mr. Chopra, Mr. Cheeseman and Ms. Margles.
Mr. Chopra, in your remarks today and at your last appearance, you said that employee payroll was high. It came up regularly in the remarks of various Canada Post stakeholders.
For our analysis, could you tell us how much the total salaries are for senior management so that we can do a comparable analysis? We are talking about the payroll of employees, but we would like to be able to compare that payroll with the payroll of senior management to do an overall analysis.
This is an interesting juxtaposition. We have heard from the field and we have heard from you, and now we have to do a gap analysis. We also heard from E and Y, and they are not very confident that your figure of $700 million in the 10th year is viable, but you know, things change, environments change. Also the financial statements showed top management at $650 million, but if that's wrong, maybe you can correct me later.
So there is some incongruence, and I just want to see how we can assist change management. You say change management, and change management is very important. Did you have change champions, from both management and labour, to take the vision over, to say that this is the vision for Canada Post? Did you have such a group? Could I just get a “yes” or “no”?
I almost forgot; I want to correct a fact for the members of this committee. The Conservative government never gave the mandate to dismantle Canada Post. I don't really agree with my colleague.
Here is my second question for you, Mr. Chopra. I ask it in all due respect. In fact, it's even to your benefit that I'll ask the question so you can defend yourself to this committee.
Throughout our travels, I have repeatedly heard that you had a hidden agenda. The Canada Post unions accused you of pursuing an ideological objective, which was to move toward a kind of privatization.
I would like to know what you have to say about this statement we have heard many times. I'm giving you, sir, the opportunity to express your thoughts on that to this committee.
The mission and the responsibility that I was given when I was hired by the board of directors was to run a financially self-sustainable Canada Post as a great institution. It was at a crossroads. The mail volumes were declining, and it was facing a serious challenge.
The mission at no point has been to do anything other than to run an efficient, profitable, self-sustaining postal institution. In fact, I would like to say we have done a good job of carrying out that mission. If you look at our business, our letter mail business is about $3 billion, and it's declining at about 6% a year. That's $180 million that we know we're going to lose from day one. If you take 2% inflation in our cost structure of $6 billion, that's about $120 million. The day we start, on January 1, we know we're facing a challenge of roughly $300 million.
If you look at our track record over the last five years, after facing some challenges in 2011 and 2012, we have managed to turn the business around. It is profitable. It has a growth agenda. It has an innovation agenda. It has a transformational agenda. It's now going through a period where your committee is reviewing what its mandate should be.
That remains our sole purpose: to deliver the postal mandate that we have been asked to do.
Mr. Ayoub, it is a very important question for an institution where unions are as much part of the solution to our future as management's ideas would be.
Let me start by saying that we both agree—our unions and us—that we have a problem. There is no denying it. I'm sure they will appear before you, following us, and you'll hear from CUPW. We both agree that Canada Post is facing a significant challenge on its pension issues and on its business model. But we do disagree on how to address this monstrous, big challenge.
Now, I'll agree with you that there are two different visions of how we transform the business. There is a view that no element of any cost should be touched in order to transform the business. It is very difficult. It is very difficult for a corporation that was built on serving the needs of the 19th and 20th centuries to serve the needs of the 21st century. We have to change. I can't think of one organization, one business, that has not been disrupted through the Internet. The closest neighbours to our business are the publishing industry, the newspaper industry, the book industry. I don't have to tell you what's going on in those places.
The answer lies in finding common ground on revenues, where we believe we have lots of collaboration. I mentioned weekend deliveries, larger sizes of direct mail, and Delivered Tonight. These are innovations where we worked together with the union.
On the cost side, however, there are two different visions. There are two different views. Pension is a great example. It's an $8-billion solvency deficit. Even on a going-concern basis, if there's a market crash we'll be down 20%. So there are serious differences.
To our witnesses, thank you for your appearance here today.
I believe all of you have appeared before us before and are very familiar with how the process works. Normally, we would give five minutes for brief opening statements. You still have that, if you wish. However, that would curtail the amount of time we have for questions, because the bells will start ringing in less than an hour, and we will have to adjourn at that time.
I would ask all of you, if you have an opening statement, to please curtail it perhaps to just new information that you haven't presented before, or, if needed, just a re-emphasis of some of the priority items you wish to present. Otherwise, we'll be running out of time.
With that, we will start with Ms. McAuley.
My name is Brenda McAuley. I'm a postmaster. I've worked in a post office for 18 years. With me today is my co-worker, Daniel Maheux, who is presently the vice-president of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association. Daniel is a postmaster, as well. We represent our members who work in 3,260 rural post offices across Canada. Our members consist of 95% women.
Once again, thank you for giving CPAA a second opportunity to express our views. We do value all the effort that your committee has put forward and will continue to put forward.
When we were last here, there were questions that were asked of the panel that, due to time constraints, CPAA did not have a chance to respond to. We would like to take the opportunity to do so now.
One of the questions that Francis Drouin posed was whether our members would need to have certified financial planning training, if we had postal banking. To respond to that, I would say no, and I'll tell you why.
When Canada Post partnered with the Bank of Montreal in 1997, they partnered for a two-year pilot. The pilot was so successful it went on until July 2013. The way that looked for 16 years was that it was so successful, all the community members had bank accounts. They would do the day-to-day transactions in the post office. If anybody wanted a mortgage or any kind of special investment or if there was paperwork that needed to be provided, the clerk at the post office would provide the paperwork. If they wanted a mortgage, the postmaster would let the bank manager know that. The bank manager would come to town once a month and service the needs of the community.
This went on for 16 successful years. The reason, I understand from all the minutes of meetings, Canada Post pulled out was because the banking hours were not supported for the workers. The workers were torn between “Am I a post office or a bank?” Had those banking hours been supported, it would have been very successful and would have continued to be successful.
That said, the Bank of Nova Scotia also partnered in a community in Newfoundland. The two-year pilot was successful and it went on for four years. The Bank of Montreal also partnered in Moose Factory, and the two-year pilot went on for eight years.
The task force report, on page 86, states, “Canada Post piloted partnerships with a couple of banks in the late 1990s did not succeed”. Well, just from what I've explained to you, CPAA has a different perspective.
The task force report states, in essence, that the post office could become the community hub. Another question was on what services could be added.
CPAA believes that the post office is a community hub now and always has been. Having personally worked there for 18 years, I know that when people are looking for information, whether it has to do with taxes, pension forms, passports, directions, assisting seniors with various needs, you name it, the post office is the place to stop for the information.
The task force's suggestion of having a business centre with the availability of Internet would just increase the traffic and potentially generate revenues for Canada Post. It would also continue to drive growth in rural Canada.
Our offices can become the financial engine for social and economic development in rural Canada. They could also be the information reference centre for federal government departments.
For example, information and/or forms on the following services could be made available to improve commercial and customer traffic: post banking and more financial services, social insurance number kits, employment insurance applications, Canada Pension Plan applications, old age security applications, passport forms, specialized income tax forms, and general tax forms. Often, people would come in looking for specialized forms. There are also student loans and the list goes on. We could also partner with the province for motor vehicle registration and renewal of driver's licences; insurance renewal; fishing, hunting, and marriage licences; etc.
In closing, despite the moratorium being in place, we have seen over 350 public post offices close. We have also seen public post offices replaced with privatized franchises. As for point three of the previous government's supported five-point action plan, it appears Canada Post is still promoting franchises.
Since 2010, we have seen a drastic reduction of service to our communities, with 8,000 hours removed from our public post offices. There have been over 500 good-paying jobs with benefits lost. Our members are 95% women, and there are few living wage jobs in rural Canada.
Just recently, we heard announce the creation of a new infrastructure bank. He stated, “We need to create good-paying jobs.” Our question is, “Why can't we keep the good-paying jobs we already have?” By investing in the infrastructure that is already in place, let's build up this public corporation and not tear it down.
To the chair's point, I'll definitely keep it brief.
I believe we articulated our position last time, when we provided an opening statement, as well, as through our written submission. I won't be covering that part. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
In my opening statement, I would like to thank the committee for a second invitation. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to at least provide our thoughts and concerns regarding the discussion paper or even the Canada Post review process.
There are some concerns with the process. I don't feel like our ideas were necessarily considered by the task force. There are a number of ideas that didn't appear in the paper whatsoever. We also think it would have been beneficial to have an employee representative on the task force. I'm not too sure how the task force representatives were selected or named, but there would have been value to having some form of balance on the task force, to have someone who is coming from labour, and someone who has that history as an employee representative, to provide their perspective on certain issues.
We also feel that throughout the document, it appears that the task force would have had multiple conversations with the corporation. From one perspective, I understand that. From another perspective, when you're trying to build an objective document, it doesn't necessarily look good when you're getting a lot of information from one of the stakeholders, and the other stakeholders, the unions, only get one opportunity to provide their perspective on the issues.
Those were some areas of concern. We talked about privatization, and the way that it is written it's almost like a road map to the eventual privatization of the corporation, just with the amount of outsourcing that would be involved and some of the things that the task force brings forward.
There will be significant job losses, the elimination of many jobs, not just for the current incumbents, but also removing those jobs from the labour market. That will have an impact on the economy, and that will have an impact on future generations. Those jobs are being eliminated completely from the economy.
The other concern that we had, of course, is around the pension plan. As was discussed, the position that the unions took was exactly one that I believe Mr. Cheeseman spoke to briefly. The option that we brought forward, essentially, is seeking permanent solvency exemption. That would require some legislative change. I don't believe it's an option that's discussed in the task force discussion paper, but is certainly one we brought forward to and to , and it's something we certainly would want to explore further, or to have the committee at least consider.
If you have any questions, Howie and I are both here to answer any questions you might have.
Once again, thank you for the invitation to participate in this process. I would like first to introduce my colleague Michael Ling, first vice-president for the association.
Let me start by saying that the association supports some of the five-point action plan from Canada Post. We agree with the corporation and the task force that in some way we need to evolve. We are in 2016, so something needs to happen.
The association is a trade union and sees itself as having a very progressive approach to labour relations. We are a strong advocate of alternative dispute resolution, interest-based negotiation, consultation, and open dialogue. Our unique blend of broad-minded thinking and collaborative problem-solving places us in the distinctive position to assist the corporation in implementing some of the five-point action plan.
In fact, our members have directly participated in a conversion of urban Canadian households receiving door-to-door mail delivery to less costly community mailboxes. The corporation has placed this part of the five-point action plan on pause pending the result of the standing committee, and we are anxious to see the outcome of it.
Beyond this initiative we see a number of opportunities for the future of Canada Post, including leveraging of one of the largest retail network infrastructures. This network has served Canada as well as merging the rural with the urban, as well as the corporation's fleet transportation network, which can be further leveraged to serve Canadians.
The association can state unequivocally that the past success of Canada Post has been a direct by-product of the work and contribution of all its employees. It is the association's impression that any change to the corporation may result in a negative impact on the terms and conditions of employment of those employees. It is the association's belief that in order for the corporation to be successful it must attract a high level of talent. This can only be achieved by providing attractive working conditions and employment which must include good benefits and a strong pension plan for its employees.
We believe that we must be involved in the conversation. By way of example, in late 2013, the honourable Mr. Flaherty spearheaded government legislation that provided a five-year exemption to Canada Post from the requirement to make payment to address the solvency deficit required under the Pension Benefits Standards Act. It appears that the reprieve will come to an end without any further resolution on the horizon.
We unfortunately have not been part of those discussions. The association believes in the collaborative approach to seeking solutions to address the concerns of all employees of Canada Post. This would include consultation on how to assure the provision of a solid and fair retirement. It is the association's view that a successful Canada Post results in a content and thriving employee, which will benefit all Canadians.
The association looks forward to working with the corporation and participating in the mandate review process, particularly in light of the challenge and opportunity facing Canada Post Corporation today, and we believe we have a lot to offer. As long as we keep our focus and our goal to deliver quality and affordable postal service for Canadians and to consult with each other, we believe this can be achieved.
I know my English is not as perfect as some of yours but I think everybody understood. Thank you.
Something that we heard from the credit unions the other day was that they would be interested in exploring that kind of a partnership. They would want to be sure that it would be an open concept, and there was some concern about the post office crowding out the credit union sector business. What I like to hear is that people are open to considering that kind of business. If there's a way to provide that service across the country, in rural and remote areas where it doesn't exist, that's certainly something that's interesting to me.
On the other side, though, is the importance of revenue growth. To ensure revenue growth, we need to have flexibility in the delivery mechanisms. Something that we heard in places like Scanterbury and Yellowknife was that, in one case, the stand-alone post office was only open three hours a day, so that wasn't serving anyone. We actually saw it. It was quite small, and you couldn't fit more than half a dozen people in the post office. They were moving to a grocery store concept. In other words, because they were able to collaborate on this, they were able to find a solution that fit the community.
How open are your members to finding different kinds of solutions to ensuring delivery, both to individual Canadian customers, and also to the businesses, the micro-businesses, that are growing and need extended service hours?
I met with the corporation last week at our semi-annual meeting. Mr. Chopra was referring to those meetings earlier today, and I had asked if the task force was given the unredacted study of the postal banking study that the corporation did. We were told that the experts that the task force was using were given the unredacted study.
That's where we are at right now. Of course, we asked for it again, and to date we haven't been given the study. It's hard to collaborate with the corporation on postal banking when we've given them our study, and we've met with them, and they won't give us their unredacted study. In it 711 of the 800 pages were redacted, and there is one page that said it's win-win, so we're very curious about that.
As far as our study goes, it was established that there are 1,200 communities across Canada that do not have banking services. Out of the 615 indigenous communities, there are only 54 of those that do have postal banking. We see the need is there. We have the infrastructure, and we have the people ready and available, and they're FINTRAC trained. Our folks are security clear. FINTRAC training is the highest level of security training, and all our folks have that, so we're ready to go
Anyway, it's great to have you here, and I appreciate the comments.
We have travelled a lot, as you know, and we've heard very clearly from a lot of Canadians, especially in the rural areas, just how important the rural post office is. We had a couple of wonderful members of your association from Carstairs and veterans who joined us in Edmonton, so kudos to you.
We've heard it very loud and clear. In rural areas it really is a vital service. In big cities such as Edmonton, not as much. Where I live, within a five-minute drive I can run into 20 outlets and several corporate stores as well.
I'll open it up to everyone here.
One of the suggestions we heard for pensions was by a representative from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, who talked about a shared risk. You would have your set defined amount, and then the last part would be a shared risk. If the fund did very well in a good year, the workers would share in the excess money. In a difficult year when the market drops, they would receive the base amount. Again, it came up with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, but there was another pension expert, perhaps from Mercer, who commented that it was a valid thing to look at and could be a way forward for Canada Post without having to look at defined contributions or other issues.
I wonder if you folks could comment on that.
To all our witnesses, thank you very much for once again appearing before us. Your testimony has been helpful, and we hopefully will be getting around to drafting a report on this within the next couple of weeks or so. Obviously I know you'll be very interested in seeing the results of that report when we table it in Parliament.
The witnesses are excused.
I would ask our committee members to stay at the table just for a couple of moments. We have about six minutes before the bells start ringing.
Thank you, witnesses.
We are still public. I just want you to be aware of that.
We have a couple of issues that we need to deal with. Madam Trudel and Mr. Whalen both raised one, and that is to get our hands on the Canada Post study on postal banking in its unredacted form. Canada Post certainly is willing to accommodate; however there are a few conditions attached to that, which is natural, and quite in order, by the way, because of the commercially sensitive nature of a lot of the information contained in that report.
The second challenge is that the report itself is quite lengthy. It's about 800 pages. We'll have to deal with this in an in camera session. The suggestion, which again is in order with the compendium of procedure of the House of Commons, is that the report be delivered at an in camera session to all members. Discussion can ensue from there, but once we leave, the reports are turned back to Canada Post.
On the timing of that, I don't know how long...obviously, it's a lengthy report. You'll see it for the first time and then go into the discussions after that. If we're looking at a meeting, we won't be able to do that now for any length of time unless we want to schedule an entire committee meeting for that purpose. If that's the case, the earliest opportunity would be the Monday we return from our Remembrance Day constituency week, which would be November 14. I'm just wondering whether or not you would like that date.
One issue I have with only having it during a committee meeting is that it's 800 pages. In previous in camera discussions we had, other things have been discussed, but I would like the document to be made available in a data room, where people can go at their leisure over the course of a couple of days to familiarize themselves with the document, if that's possible, and then have a meeting based on their review of it, which wouldn't interfere with the existing schedule.
All the contents of the report are confidential, so I don't think our seeing it during the drafting of the report is a problem, but it will affect our interpretation of the testimony that we've received to date. I think it's important that we see it, but there also has to be a meaningful opportunity to review it. Meeting for two hours on an 800-page document is not meaningful.
I will draw the committee's attention to our right to reject any of these suggestions, if we choose to do so. We could simply say that is fine, well and good, but we'd mentioned our desire to see this document in early September. Here we are now, and they're still trying to negotiate conditions that we do not need to accept. We can just have the document delivered up forthwith.
I think we can accommodate an opportunity whereby the document is made available in the Centre Block, in a room that we can visit at our leisure over the course of a couple of days and take such necessary steps to review the 800 pages in a sufficient window, and then have a meeting after that time, if we so choose. It may be that we do not need to meet after having had an opportunity to meaningfully review the document. That remains to be seen.
Are there any other comments?
The second point is that as far as timing for tomorrow's meetings goes, we will convene at 10 a.m. in room 237-D. We will hear from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers at that time, followed by the task force. Then at 12 noon, in the same room, we'll switch disciplines, and go to listening to , representatives from the Department of Finance, and PCO on the estimates process, and then we will have to change rooms from 1 o'clock to 2 o'clock to deal with the drafting instructions for our report on Canada Post. We will also at that time discuss both the issues we had discussed at the last meeting, the analysts' suggestion regarding the outline, Mr. Whalen's suggestion, and any suggestions from other members of the committee. That will be in camera but that will be in room 253-D.
So, again, we'll get the guide map out for you tomorrow but we'll just have to change rooms for that last portion of our meeting.