The federal government says it wants to ensure that “Canadians receive quality postal services at a reasonable price.”
It’s asking Canadians for our input. So, how do you think our national postal service should change with the times?
People everywhere are sending fewer letters through the mail, which has affected the revenues of post offices around the world. Some postal systems have raised prices or cut services and jobs, as Canada Post did when the Conservatives were in power.
But post offices in many other countries have expanded their services and branched out into new avenues in order to make more money.
It’s time for Canada Post to make full use of its presence in every community and add new revenuegenerating services. Here are a few options to think about:
With 6,300 outlets, Canada Post has the largest retail network in the country. It could be doing a lot more with this network.
Canada Post already processes passport applications and issues fishing and hunting licenses. It could also accept identity card applications, provide identity authentication services, register voters, certify documents, issue permits and much, much more.
Canada Post could also process payments and cheques for federal and provincial governments, and offer government services in places that don’t have any.
Canada Post used to and could still provide financial and banking services like other post offices around the world. We could provide savings and chequing accounts; bank machines; lines of credit, mortgages, money transfers, etc.
Postal banking is profitable in many parts of the world and could reinvest its profits back into our communities. See CUPW’s A Bank for Everyone campaign and go to cupw.ca/PostalBanking.
Canada Post’s retail space could be better used in many locations. Why not rent display space to artists and producers for showcasing their specialty goods for fixed lengths of time? Showcase “Canadiana”? Or help on-line sales of products through a website portal like the Swiss post office?
Canadians want simple, affordable internet and cell phone service. Canada Post could offer basic cell phone packages. It could also use its infrastructure to provide high-speed internet in rural and remote areas that do not have access to this service. Many post offices in Europe, such as the UK, Italy and France, already offer internet and cell service.
Canada Post could also collect data quickly and frequently for ethical use in transportation, infrastructure and public planning.
With the largest delivery network in the country, Canada Post could deliver a lot more.
The parcel delivery sector is growing rapidly as a result of e-commerce and internet marketing. It doesn’t make sense to have multiple courier companies driving down the same streets every day to deliver parcels.
Canada Post could provide last mile delivery for the entire sector. This would lower prices and be good for the environment because it would reduce our use of fossil fuels, and cut pollution and traffic congestion.
Canada Post already provides last mile for FedEx in rural and small communities.
Canada Post could partner with large grocery stores to offer home delivery across the country like the Swiss and Danish post offices.
Of course, Canada Post isn’t simply about making money. Like other Crown corporations, it is supposed to serve our public interest.
As well as considering revenue-generating services, Canada Post ought to be strengthening and expanding the services it provides to all Canadians. For example:
Our population is aging and we need to keep our communities connected.
Canada Post used to have a service called Letter Carrier Alert that allowed letter carriers to monitor seniors and people with disabilities. Many letter carriers still informally check up on their neighbourhoods and the people on their routes. In partnership with municipal governments, communities, health care providers and seniors, we can keep doing this, helping older Canadians to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
La Poste in France is a leader in testing such new roles for the letter carriers. It partners with pharmacies to deliver medicine and works with organizations to check on people who are vulnerable, isolated or disabled.
Japan Post also has a service called “Watch Over” that checks on seniors and reports back to family members for a small monthly fee.
This service costs the equivalent of about $8.40 US per month. According to the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service, a similar service in the US would generate $12.6 million in revenues annually if just one per cent of its 12.5 million older adults that live alone signed up.
Japan Post will deliver 4-5 million iPads to seniors by 2020. The iPads will have apps that facilitate check-ins and remind seniors to take their medications, eat and exercise.