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Results: 1 - 15 of 74
View Kelly McCauley Profile
Okay. I'm going to take back my time, Minister.
Canada Post has lost $1.1 billion, almost $1.2 billion, over the last couple of years. The Canada Post Corporation Act requires it to operate on a self-sustaining basis financially. What is the plan going forward to ensure fiscal sustainability with Canada Post?
View Anita Anand Profile
Lib. (ON)
I will say that we have been in close communication with the board of directors of Canada Post regarding its path toward financial sustainability. Indeed, we were all working very hard to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which to some extent did cloud the agenda—
Jean-Philippe Grenier
View Jean-Philippe Grenier Profile
Jean-Philippe Grenier
2021-05-06 11:18
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would first like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology for inviting us to be part of your work on the green economic recovery following COVID-19.
My name is Jean-Philippe Grenier and I am the 3rd National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. I am accompanied by my colleague Hugo Charette, who is the Campaign Coordinator, Metropolitan Montreal Region.
We are here today to talk to you about our campaign called Delivering Community Power, which the union has been conducting since 2016. This is the postal workers' plan both to fight climate change and to provide new services at post offices. Using recovery principles, we have blended the environmental concerns with the new services that we could provide at post offices all over the country.
For your work, we want to talk to you about two aspects of the project of which we are particularly fond: the electrification of Canada Post's fleet of vehicles and the establishment of a network of public charging stations at Canada Post facilities. I want to focus on these two aspects. I also invite you to seek information on our overall campaign, because it contains a multitude of other components.
Like many others in the transportation and logistics industry, Canada Post is a major emitter of greenhouse gases. Canada Post makes deliveries to many diverse locations, but even more significant is the fact that it has the largest fleet of vehicles in Canada. We have 20,000 vehicles in total, about 13,000 of which belong directly to the Crown corporation. The remaining 7,000 are used by Canada Post employees in rural areas. The latter are, in effect, using their own vehicles to deliver parcels and mail.
For years, we have been urging the employer to electrify its transportation. Its response is that it is currently transforming the fleet of vehicles by replacing, with hybrid and electric models, the traditional delivery vehicles that are at the end of their useful life. The costs of doing so are not really any higher.
That is the employer's position, but, actually, despite the current consensus on electrifying transportation, Canada Post is still opting for hybrid technology. I often entertain myself by saying that, as a Crown corporation, we prefer to stick with an old technology, hybrid technology, while the need is to start adopting new ones. Some hybrid vehicles we have on the roads are not rechargeable. So no energy is recovered. Other hybrid vehicles are rechargeable, but there are no electric vehicle charging stations at Canada Post facilities.
Our plan is to install electric vehicle charging stations across the entire country. Canada has about 6,100 post offices. The recharging stations could be a win-win situation, both for Canada Post customers who could use them when they go to the post office, and for corporation employees, given that the fleet of electric vehicles could be recharged at night.
Quite recently—in 2018, if I am not mistaken—we asked Queen's University to conduct a study in the Maritime provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The study was about implementing a secondary network using existing infrastructures. I invite you to take a look at it. My colleague Mr. Charette will distribute it to the committee members. The study established that electric vehicle charging stations are generally deployed in a primary network that follows major arteries. But in rural areas, gaps exist. Post offices could play a very important role.
Currently, Canada Post has a plan to install nine electric vehicle charging stations in the whole country, whereas 6,100 locations are possible. We regret the fact that Canada Post went to an American company for the charging stations, when we have companies such as AddÉnerie.
I will now give the floor to my colleague, Mr. Charette.
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My questions are for Mr. Charette and Mr. Grenier from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Can you tell us about your service diversification project, which you mentioned briefly?
Could you also share your assessment of the Liberal Greening Government Strategy, which came out of the last budget that was tabled?
Hugo Charette
View Hugo Charette Profile
Hugo Charette
2021-05-06 12:45
In terms of service diversification, we are increasingly offering services at post offices, including postal banking and Service Canada. We really want to reinvent the post office.
With respect to the Liberals Greening Government Strategy, they use the word “encourage” when they talk about Crown corporations. That's where we see a lack of leadership. What does “encourage” mean? Are they fully funding the energy transition, or is it a little pat on the back with a postcard that says, “You can do it”?
We want to make the case today that this strategy lacks teeth. Crown corporations must be included in the stimulus package, and clear and specific language is needed to do so. That's really what we want. That's really the symbol and the signal that needs to be sent.
When Mr. McTeague says to wait and move incrementally, I'm a little taken aback. You heard from Mr. Breton, from Electric Mobility Canada. He painted an interesting picture of the situation. He said that the electrification of transportation should not be seen as an expense, but as an investment. He emphasized that we should not miss the boat, that Europe and Asia were positioning themselves and that this was also the case for our partners, the Americans.
Let's move towards electrification of transportation, but in order to do so, let's use our largest Crown corporation. Installing nine charging stations does not send a strong message to industry about where we need to go.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to start by acknowledging the witnesses and thanking them for being here today.
My questions are for Mr. Côté from the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail.
I imagine that the pandemic had a major impact on consumer behaviour, particularly because of the public health restrictions. For example, consumers were no longer able to go to some of the retail businesses that they used to shop at.
We've noticed that a number of consumers are turning to online shopping. It must be quite difficult for retail businesses to compete with the online giants, which offer free or low-cost delivery. For example, if you buy a product for $10, but pay $15 for delivery, this can be an issue for the consumer, but also for the business. People who shop online do so mainly because the prices are lower.
Do you think that Canada Post should make an extra effort to lower delivery costs through its solutions for small business program? Do you see any other options for businesses?
Jean-Guy Côté
View Jean-Guy Côté Profile
Jean-Guy Côté
2021-04-20 16:56
Thank you for the question.
There are several options. However, I want to point out that retailers have adapted their delivery methods. Some have been very resourceful in dealing with the competition. Of course, in contrast with some of the well-known large online retailers, the retailers that don't have an economy of scale that provides ample resources to organize delivery are facing certain challenges. Obviously, if Canada Post decides to lower or adjust delivery fees, retailers will welcome this news with open arms. This could happen. That said, I want to point out that there are other solutions, other ways to deliver. The truth is, price isn't the only factor that drives online shopping these days. Convenience is also a factor. For some people, it's easier to shop online than to go to a store.
Interestingly, we've noticed that, when people go to the store, they stay for a short time and buy many things. Going to the store has become an event in itself. Instead of buying just a few products or nothing at all, people go to the store to buy predetermined products and usually leave with the products that they wanted to buy. We're seeing this change in behaviour now, and it's likely to continue after the pandemic.
Obviously, competitive delivery solutions will always be welcomed by retailers.
Ritesh Kotak
View Ritesh Kotak Profile
Ritesh Kotak
2021-04-15 11:57
Good morning, Madam Chair.
I would like to start by thanking the committee for inviting me to share my thoughts on how Canada could become more competitive.
My name is Ritesh Kotak, and I work with organizations to help them transform their operations digitally. I've studied and worked on this issue globally for the last decade, but my journey started a lot earlier. I grew up in a small business. To be more specific, my crib was in a store. My grandparents and parents had a community grocery store, which over the years has transformed into a food manufacturing company that employs about 20 individuals, imports and exports products, and is continuously trying to innovate.
When the pandemic started, many businesses had to find alternative ways to remain competitive. The natural move was to transfer operations to an e-commerce platform, my parents included. The general consensus was that it is as simple as creating an account, adding your products and you can begin shipping to customers around the world. In theory this is correct. However, in practice it is much more complex.
I would like to take my time to break down three categories of issues that are major barriers to businesses and hinder our competitiveness. I share my thoughts from a strategic and also a practical perspective.
Number one, you are building on something existing and not on something new; number two, unclear guidelines; number three, access to a knowledge base.
The first major barrier is that many initiatives make a detrimental assumption that because they have a website, it will allow businesses to migrate their operations online. However, if you are a traditional bricks and mortar establishment, you have existing systems. Upgrading those systems is complex and expensive. I've seen frustrated business owners maintain two independent systems, which is just not economical. If you want to integrate, it requires additional software and expertise. This can cost thousands of dollars, be time consuming and complex, and many people are simply unaware of this additional investment. This can also be very stressful.
To add to the complexity, we wouldn't normally think of all of the labour challenges from a granular level, such as adding hundreds of products, descriptions, images, to shipping the product to the customer—also known as the last mile. With shipping in particular, business owners may end up covering large costs out of pocket, as major carriers base rates on weight, not volume. I can elaborate further on this point during the Q and A.
It is also extremely difficult for small businesses to compete, as shipping rates are significantly higher for small businesses compared with established big box companies. A package may cost a local business $14 to ship; the same package will cost an established business $4. That's three and a half times higher. This dissuades customers from completing a transaction. We see this through the number of abandoned shopping carts. Shipping companies won't give you a better rate unless you have volume, and you won't have volume if you don't offer competitive rates. Given low margins in certain industries, it makes this an impossible proposition—a catch-22.
To put a hard number to the amount of effort required, I have technical abilities and understand the different factors and complexities. It took me approximately 300 hours to figure this out. I empathize with all of the small business owners who don't have access to these skills and as a last resort have spent up to $30,000 on consultants—money that they didn't even budget for.
The second category of issues is that there are unclear guidelines. I'll use my example of the food industry. Many retailers are unaware that shipping to other countries, especially to the U.S., has its challenges. Since CUSMA increased the de minimis value under section 321 from $200 to $800 for e-commerce, many organizations are unsure how this applies.
From my conversations, I found that different agencies are used to helping businesses with B2B trade, but not B2C trade. I could not find a single resource that aggregated all the necessary information, from registration and labelling requirements, to other considerations such as advertising restrictions and data protection. Businesses are expected to comply, but are unaware. I even found federal agencies who really wanted to help and answer my questions, but were just unsure on how best to address my inquiries. This is a major barrier to our competitiveness.
Finally, more needs to be done to physically help these businesses digitally transform their operations. We cannot simply put money towards the problem, as they require physical expertise and a helping hand.
As mentioned, it took me 300 hours. I have volunteered my time to assist many organizations digitize, because I truly believe that we are all in this together. There need to be more individuals who have built these hybrid businesses assisting other businesses, because personal usage is a precondition to comprehension.
There is plenty more I would like to discuss such as how we can achieve this, barriers to accessibility and other factors that impact our competitiveness.
I thank you for this opportunity and welcome your questions.
View Richard Cannings Profile
You mentioned the domestic part. You're also the minister for small business, as I understand it. I'm wondering if you could expand on any efforts your government has been making to eliminate the interprovincial trade barriers for wine and beer makers. This is perhaps an even bigger problem.
On that, my neighbouring MP, Dan Albas, has a private member's bill that would allow Canada Post to ship beer and wine between provinces. I'm wondering what your government's thought is on that bill.
View Mary Ng Profile
Lib. (ON)
Around interprovincial trade, I know that my colleagues, both Minister LeBlanc as well as Minister Champagne, are working very actively on that. We understand the value of removing those barriers in the interests of our Canadian businesses and, you're absolutely right, small businesses. As we do with virtually all of our work, we are working whole-of-government so that we are pointing our capabilities to the Canadian end of the business that are the recipients of this. We are working very hard on the interprovincial movement of goods.
In the meantime, I continue to help our Canadian companies find those markets and pursue greater export into the many markets that are afforded by so many of the trade agreements we have today. It's nice to be in the position, especially as I meet with my G7 colleagues, to be the only one around the table who has an agreement with all of them.
All of this is to say that we need to keep doing the work to help them export and to create opportunities for them to also take advantage of the domestic market.
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. Thank you for your kind invitation to join you here today.
I want to begin by thanking this committee for the excellent work it has been doing since it was created a year ago. We have, of course, been following very closely the work of this committee, and it has been, I think, very helpful in shedding light on the vast multitude of issues involving our relationship with China.
As the chair indicated, I am ably joined today by senior officials from within my department, and also by Ms. Shelly Bruce from the Communications Security Establishment, who I hope will be able to answer any particular questions you may have about the operations of their agencies.
As you know, Canada is home to a very large Chinese Canadian community in every part of the country, and certainly in my city. Chinese people represent a very significant and very important part of the Canadian fabric. We also recognize, of course, that China is a significant actor on global issues of importance to Canada and that it offers some economic opportunities for Canadian businesses.
I want to be very clear that none of my remarks today are intended to be directed towards Chinese Canadian citizens. In fact, I'd like to highlight the number of disturbing and very concerning reports that we've heard from across the country regarding the rise in racist and discriminatory actions directed towards people of Asian origin for no reason other than their ethnicity. This, I think every member of this committee and our government will agree, is abhorrent and wrong. It is unacceptable and it must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.
It is also important that we be very careful with the words we use in this discussion. We are talking about Canada's relationship with the government of China. When it fails to uphold its international obligations, we need, certainly, to be forceful in our response but to be clear that we are talking about the government of China.
No one, Mr. Chair, has forgotten that the Chinese government continues to arbitrarily detain Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Earlier this week, in his meeting with the Prime Minister, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed his government's support for the two Michaels and committed to working together with us for their release.
We know as well that foreign interference in Canada has become a sad reality for many people. In December, in a letter that I addressed to all MPs here and in the House, which was subsequently tabled in the House of Commons, I took what I think was an important step by publicly outlining the threats related to foreign interference and the critical work of the security and intelligence community in Canada.
This follows steps the Prime Minister took in permitting unclassified, publicly released versions of the NSICOP report to, for the very first time, specifically name countries that are particularly active in Canada, such as the government of China. As an independent review body with a broad mandate, this committee plays a very significant role in national security. Its members include both senators and members of Parliament, all of whom hold top-secret security clearances, which enables them to receive classified briefings and materials related to the conduct of the committee's work.
We will continue, Mr. Chair, to raise awareness so that Canadians, businesses and academics have the information and the tools they need to support themselves while our agencies collect information to support investigations. This is because foreign interference activities of any kind undermine our values and democratic institutions. They threaten our sovereignty, our economic prosperity, and the safety and interests of Canadians. They are unacceptable and they will not be tolerated.
We are actively and carefully monitoring the situation, including identifying new ways in which foreign interference may threaten our country. A number of organizations in my portfolio—CSIS, the RCMP and Public Safety Canada in particular—are involved in work to address foreign interference in all of the forms in which it manifests itself in Canada and around the world. Both CSIS and the RCMP apply the full measure of their mandates in investigating potential risks to Canadian interests, responding to threats, and keeping Canadians safe from harm and intimidation.
CSIS and the RCMP also have reporting mechanisms in place for anyone who would like to report a threat to national security, including foreign interference.
I want to assure the members of this committee and all Canadians that our national security and intelligence agencies and our law enforcement agencies remain ever vigilant in ensuring the interests of Canadians. We are prepared to act, and we are acting against threats to Canadian interests in this country from hostile activities of state actors. We will continue to work closely with our partners domestically and internationally, including the Five Eyes and other allies, on foreign interference.
While foreign interference is top of mind for my portfolio, it is by no means the only issue on the plate.
It's no secret that China is one of the main source countries of fentanyl, as well as the precursor chemicals used to make this highly potent and deadly synthetic opioid. Illegal fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs are being mixed in with and contaminating other drugs. This continues to be a major driving factor in the overdose crisis that has tragically cut so many lives short in Canada.
CBSA uses intelligence as well as a variety of detection tools, techniques and the latest in scientific technology to prevent cross-border smuggling of illicit drugs, including toxic substances like fentanyl. Over the past four years, the CBSA has made 335 seizures, totalling over 42.2 kg. In 129 of the seizures, China was listed as the source country of those drugs.
For its part, the RCMP has established an organized crime joint operation centre with CBSA and Canada Post to track, identify and take appropriate enforcement action against the importation of these illicit opioids. In 2017, we passed legislation to permit our officers, with reasonable grounds, to search international mail weighing under 30 kg. The RCMP are also working with international enforcement partners to investigate and to disrupt the illegal importation of precursor chemicals and illicit drugs to Canada. With respect to China, the RCMP, the CBSA and their counterparts have all agreed to collaborate to target fentanyl trafficking.
Let me now, if I may, briefly turn to another issue of interest to this committee. I know that 5G technology has come up in your hearings and that the Government of Canada is certainly under no illusions about the security challenges of that decision—
Louise Chayer
View Louise Chayer Profile
Louise Chayer
2020-12-03 12:06
Thank you to the chair and to the committee members for inviting me to join you today.
My name is Louise Chayer, and I'm the general manager of customer experience at Canada Post.
I'd like to start by outlining our long-standing commitment to delivering major mailings and the consultative approach that we take to ensure successful delivery. At Canada Post we're proud to serve every corner of the country, and we understand the importance of connecting Canadians in urban centres, rural towns, remote communities and the Far North.
We deliver on our mandate each day with a large, sophisticated, national network and a team of incredible people who are dedicated to serving Canadians. When it comes to securely delivering large, national and regional mailings, we have extensive experience. It means that we can support important public initiatives such as the census, national and provincial elections and, most recently, Health Canada's COVID-19 awareness efforts.
In each instance we work closely with officials at all levels to conduct extensive advance planning. With a dedicated project team, we work with the shared goal of effectively and thoughtfully executing all the mailing requirements. We meet regularly with organizers to provide logistical support and advice, proactively monitor mailings from receipt to delivery and develop mechanisms to quickly address any potential issues. This approach has helped us to successfully support elections of all kinds for years while building great working relationships with election officials across the country.
This year alone we have supported provincial elections in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as numerous by-elections at the municipal, provincial, and federal level.
After the federal election that was held last fall, we received a letter from Stéphane Perrault, the Chief Electoral Officer. In it he recognized Canada Post's efforts in delivering 4,300 monotainers of election material and thousands of special ballot bags to run the election while at the same time ensuring that 27 million voter information cards and 15.4 million federal election guides were distributed to Canadians in a timely manner.
During every writ period, we're also proud to deliver a surge of personal mail and direct mail from candidates who are looking to quickly and effectively get their messages into the hands of the voters.
While there is often a surge of mail during any election period, I want to reassure the committee members that we are built to meet our responsibilities. With over 53,000 employees, Canada Post delivers close to eight billion pieces of mail and parcels to 16.5 million addresses across the country every year. Our network consists of 21 processing plants and 477 letter-carrier depots serving more than 22,000 urban, rural and mail service carrier routes. We have one of the largest fleets in Canada with over 13,000 vehicles. While much of the attention has shifted recently to the number of parcels that we process and deliver, we are also built to process and deliver a lot of mail.
Mail is processed on machines called multi-line optical character readers, or MLOCRs, as we call them. They're dedicated to sorting mail, and they do so at a very high rate of speed. We currently operate 150 MLOCRs located in 15 mail processing plants across the country that can each process on average 22,000 pieces of mail an hour. As you can see, we are able to support large mailings, and we're proud to do so.
I would like to close by saying that this year has been like no other. With COVID-19, our top priority from the beginning has been to ensure that we are putting the safety of our people first. To do so, we have closely followed the advice and guidance of the Public Health Agency of Canada throughout this period. We quickly and dramatically changed the way we work, the way we deliver, the way we operate our post offices and the way we clean our facilities right across the country.
We implemented physical distancing measures, and we ramped up the distribution of safety equipment and personal protective equipment to our people. Masks and face coverings are mandatory in all our facilities, including for customers visiting the post office. We've also implemented processes and contingencies to respond in the event of a positive or presumptive employee case.
These are just a few of the many measures we've put in place to keep employees and the people who we serve safe. Throughout it all, we have worked closely with our unions and bargaining agents at the national and local levels. By putting safety measures in place early and working regularly to improve them, we've been able to provide an essential service to Canadians throughout a very challenging year.
In summary, we have a long and established history of serving Canadians and supporting our democracy when called upon.
We're not just a delivery company. We are part of the national fabric, with a network built to serve all and a team of people proud to serve the many communities they call home.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to answering your questions.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
Thanks very much, and thanks for allowing me to fill in today.
Ms. Chayer, I normally sit on the government operations committee where we have a lot of dealings with Canada Post, so it's nice to see you.
I wonder if you could give some of Canada Post's experiences in dealing with the B.C., Saskatchewan and New Brunswick elections with the mail-in process.
Louise Chayer
View Louise Chayer Profile
Louise Chayer
2020-12-03 12:17
Certainly. That's a good question.
As you mentioned, we supported the New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia elections.
On the New Brunswick side, it was smaller in scope, and things were handled without any issues in terms of the mail-in ballots.
Saskatchewan was a little larger in scope and we were able to support there without any issues as well.
In the B.C. election as well, there is a larger population, and for sure, a larger number of voter mail-in ballots. Again there were no issues in terms of return, getting the kits out and getting people to vote by mail and getting those votes back in time for the election.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
My colleague Mr. Blaikie commented about a fixed election versus a snap election. Saskatchewan's is more fixed, but B.C.'s was a snap election.
What would happen with Canada Post should something be called unexpectedly, perhaps in spring, as a lot of people are talking about? Is Canada Post ready to go, already ramped up for a much larger potential mail-out?
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