Over the past week, we’ve watched in horror as wildfires ripped through the Fort McMurray area. Our immediate thoughts are with those who have lost everything and those who are unsure if they have anything to go back to.
It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of countless emergency planners, first responders and firefighters that the largest evacuation in Canadian history was accomplished without a single fatality.
It's clear that the people of Fort McMurray will face many challenges in their efforts to recover and rebuild. This brings me to a simple question: what role can Canada Post play in the relief and rebuilding effort?
That is why I wrote to Deepak Chopra, CEO of Canada Post, to ask to meet with him about what more can be done. He wrote back to me today to confirm that all of our members are accounted for, that mail delivery would be resumed as soon as possible, and that Canada Post has been put at the disposal of the Red Cross.
Canada Post is the largest logistics network in the country. Canada Post also has the largest retail network in the country. Post offices can and should be used as drop-off points for donations.
We should also provide free shipping to residents of Fort McMurray for a period following the fire. This would help get aid supplies and care packages to where they are needed most.
Looking at what role Canada Post could play in the recovery, I’m left wondering: why has our crown corporation been left out of emergency planning in general? It seems obvious that in almost any major disaster, the post office could play a central role in relief and recovery efforts.
National and provincial emergency preparations should include leveraging the existing infrastructure of crown corporations. Crown corporations can accomplish things that private companies cannot do because, unlike the private sector, Canada Post’s mandate is not just to make money.
Over the last two years the public has rallied to save Canada Post. It is time for Canada Post to help save Fort McMurray.
I’ll keep you posted on how our union is organizing towards the relief effort.