I find it hard to sympathize with the current trials of Canada Post, and the arguments put forward to preserve it in its current form baffle me. I live in a rural community of 1500 people in Eastern Ontario, and I've been living with the mail system that is soon to be imposed on urban Canada for 25 years; life goes on and the sun still rises in the morning.
My mail is delivered to a community post office in the centre of the village where I live. Every weekday I walk the two blocks from my house, in snow or rain or heat or gloom of night, to pick up the half pound of advertising flyers that is stuffed in my mailbox. As far as I know, there has never been home mail delivery in my community, and yet we manage to maintain the trappings of civilization. When I hear critics of the government complain that "the elderly and disabled" will be visited with unimaginable hardships by the loss of daily home delivery, I wonder how the elderly and disabled in my town have managed for so long - they must be made of sterner stuff.
The truth is that Canada Post has outlived its usefulness. Most people don't rely on the mail for important documents like bills and personal communications, and its main functions could be better performed by the private sector. People in urban areas who are shocked by the impending changes should realize that rural Canadians have been subject to that service for decades. The real question is why have city dwellers had such luxurious service for so long?
Canada Post's service is nothing to brag about. Here's a personal anecdote (one of many I could relate) to illustrate why I won't lament the passing of the Post Office. My partner, who lives in a major city, does not drive a car or have a driver's licence. The nearest post office is run out of the local Shopper's Drug Mart, a visit to which requires a lengthy bus trip involving a transfer and two buses. When Canada Post delivers a parcel to his home while he's at work and not there to receive it, he has to go to Shopper's to pick it up. The first time he did this, they asked him for his driver's licence as a form of ID. When he said he didn't have one, they looked at him in amazement and then said they would take a passport. He didn't have a valid passport either (lots of Canadians don't). They eventually let him have his parcel after showing his Health Card and various other cards confirming his identity and address, but they suggested that he get a Government of Ontario photo ID card, which is available for people in his situation without driver's licences. He did so, which involved a trip to a Service Ontario branch and a four week wait.
A year later, he went to the same Canada Post branch after moving to a new house to have his mail forwarded to the new address. He presented his Government of Ontario ID card when asked for ID but was told that Canada Post didn't recognize it as a valid form of ID for mail forwarding. He needed a driver's licence or passport. Infuriated after being told to get the Ontario ID card by the very same office that then told him that they wouldn't recognize it for certain transactions, he went home to get his passport (which he fortunately had renewed recently) and returned after another long bus trip. This time he dealt with a different employee, and as a test presented his Ontario ID, which was accepted without question. Two round-trip bus voyages and many hours later, he had completed this routine two-minute transaction.
Meanwhile, UPS will deliver parcels to a location of your choosing and release them with a simple signature. I think the proposed Canada Post reforms don't go far enough - the Post Office should be privatized immediately.