Canada Post: Public services are not only for some people, some of the time

People who work in the federal public service always have one eye trained on what’s going on at Canada Post.  And for good reason.  The crown corporation is a testing ground for the federal government’s experiments on how to transform working conditions and labour relations. 

First move is to tell Canadians that the ship is sinking.  And yet the numbers  for Canada Post tell us something quite different. The crown corporation has turned a profit for all but one of the last 17 years.

Really what is going on, as Canada Post reminded us last week, is that the party in power doesn’t actually believe that a government should be providing public services at all.  That’s what business is there to do.

Public services are meant to be for the good of a whole, for everyone in this vast confederation of ours.  They are supposed to redress the many inequalities Canadians experience when forced to live, work, go to school and raise families in an economy like ours.    

Therefore, public services should be accessible to everyone.  They should allow each and every Canadian to maintain a decent minimum living standard, and provide special help to those most in need and at risk.

Ending door-to-door delivery, and laying off 8,000 letter carriers, will isolate and disconnect the aging, the elderly and people with disabilities.  It will disadvantage people who can’t afford cars (and believe me, there are lots of them) to drive to their “super box.” It will give a leg down to those who can’t afford a computer, or those who have a computer, but can’t afford Internet. 

And, if the Harper government doesn’t believe that this is the reality of many Canadians, then it shouldn’t be in power. 

The Treasury Board Secretariat describes crown corporations as “instruments of public policy.”  But it appears that for this party, crown corporations are instruments of testing new, bad policy. The federal government intends to whittle Canada Post down until Canadians no longer see the point of the public service and will no longer oppose its privatization..

I’m standing with postal workers in their defense of the postal service.  It’s a service that needs to reach everyone through home delivery in small, large, urban and rural communities.  I’m standing with all Canadians who rely on door-to-door delivery, but who were never even consulted about doing away with it.

Public services are meant to be public.  Not only for some people, some of the time.

Jeannie Baldwin
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada

This letter appeared in the Cape Breton Post and the Journal Pioneer on December 22, 2013, and in the Western Star on December 28, 2013.