Public Values

CUPW debunks myths about Canada Post

Don't believe the myths — Canada Post is affordable, productive, and profitable.

Lemelin: Much gets said during a postal strike and quite a bit of it is Denis Lemelin, CUPW National President and Chief Negotiator

June 7, 2011: There's nothing like a postal dispute to bring out the harbingers of "the death of the letter" and even the post office. Right wing groups tend to come out of the woodwork as well. They pounce on the opportunity to advance their view of a postal world where competition prevails and everything magically improves. As a rule, there's a lot of rhetoric and talk about productivity, volumes, and much more. Much gets said during a postal strike and quite a bit of it is bunk.

POSTAL MYTH #1: No one writes or sends letters

It is true that letter-mail volumes are declining slowly, but the letter is by no means dead and buried. In fact, transaction or letter-mail volumes are 10 percent higher than they were in 1997, the last time CUPW went on strike (Source: Canada Post annual reports).

POSTAL MYTH #2: Postage rates are too high

Our 59 cent stamp is one of the biggest bargains in the industrialized world. People in Japan pay the equivalent of 94 cents Canadian to send a standard domestic letter. In Austria, they pay 88 cents and in Germany they pay 78 cents (Source: Japan Post, Austrian Post, and Deutsche Post). The real price of a stamp has actually decreased since Canada Post was set up as a Crown corporation in October of 1981. At the time, the government of the day established a 30-cent stamp because the post office was losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The price of a stamp has increased 96.7 percent since this time (January 1982 to March 2011) while the consumer price index has increased by 128.8 percent over the same period.

POSTAL MYTH #3: Canada Post is a drain on the public purse

The truth is that the post office and postal workers do not cost the public money. Canada Post has made $1.7 billion in the last 15 years and paid $1.2 billion in dividends and income tax to the federal government. By keeping Canada Post profitable, postal workers actually save the public money (Source: Canada Post annual reports).

POSTAL MYTH #4: Canada Post has low productivity

Canada Post is very productive. Unlike many companies, Canada Post has significantly increased productivity in the last two years. For example, mail-processing productivity levels for transaction mail have increased by 6.7 percent (Source: Canada Post through Appendix P of our contract). That is, the number of pieces of mail processed per paid hour has gone up. In addition, the number of workers has gone down. The corporation has cut staff to compensate for the decline in mail volumes. Proportionately, the cuts to staff have been greater than the decline in volumes. The corporation is also expecting large productivity gains from its $2 billion modernization program. Canada Post's high productivity has allowed it to keep postage rates low, make profits, and put substantial dividends and income tax into public coffers.

In short, don't believe everything you hear or read during a postal strike. Check the facts first. You can normally find them on your local bulletin board or CUPW's website.

Links and sources
  Postal strikes and myths — Part 1

Posted: June 08, 2011

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