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Stamps are the least worry

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 06:00 am

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So Canada Post is finally joining the rest of us in adapting to the transformational change sweeping the globe. Precipitated by the World Wide Web it's hard to think of anyone or anything that hasn't been affected.

Business in particular has faced major challenges as customers headed online. For most it has been a case of adapt or die. And as business restructures to meet the realities of a digital universe, the workforce has had to change with it. To say it has been painful would be a gross understatement.

There's no pleasure in jobs lost by this transformation, but it is a fact of life in the economic system we all enjoy. The last transformational change was the Industrial Revolution. There was a lot a pain then, but none of us would want to go back.

As with all change there will be some inconvenience for all users as Canada Post executes its plan. Some seniors and others lacking mobility may find the loss of door-to-door delivery particularly difficult. Many will have to rely on others to bring them their mail rather than negotiate slippery sidewalks and streets.

Canada Post made clear in its announcement that business, government and individuals have been rapidly converting to digital services to replace regular mail. That in turn has had a major impact on its revenues Ė mail volume continues to dwindle while the cost of service continues to grow.

The significant increases planned for first class postage will be a major incentive for the large volume mailers including charities, utilities and government to convert their remaining 'snail mail' clients to electronic billing and payment systems. For those unwilling or unable to conduct their business online, surcharges to cover increasing mailing costs will become commonplace. They will do what they need to do to address this change.

Canada Post has put forward a reasonable plan to put itself on more stable footing. The current structure is clearly unsustainable. Both its customers and its workforce have been given plenty of time to adapt. It's a luxury the private sector could not afford.

We cannot go back. We cannot ask taxpayers to subsidize an antiquated business model. Canada Postís workforce and politicians need to accept that this change is needed and let management get on with the job of bringing the Crown corporation into the 21st century. Ultimately, Canada Postís fate will be determined by two things: the cost of the service and consumersí demand of the service. If Canada Post cannot compete on those two things, alternatives must be sought. Taxpayers should not be asked to prop up a service that is both too expensive and utilized by a dwindling number of consumers.


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