Right in the centre - Canada Post lowers service one more time


Ken Waddell
Neepawa Banner & Press

Canada’s newspaper industry and rural Canada has had a strained relationship with Canada Post for several decades. Canada Post has been involved in a self-inflicted downward spiral for a long time. They slipped a notch lower this month. Canada Post is reducing its services yet again to rural Canada. They have reduced the number of truck deliveries in and out of rural post offices and have drastically changed their schedules. Many post offices will get fewer deliveries and pick ups and while the reduced schedule is one factor, the change in schedule is disruptive to say the least. This paper delivers a large number of copies through the post office.

At the local level, we get very good service. At the regional and national level, not so much. We have become used to having to change up all our delivery efforts when the union and Canada Post go through their frequent strike and lock-out actions. That in itself is annoying enough.

But this month at Rivers, and only this week at Neepawa, did we get notice that the delivery schedule is being changed so drastically that our Friday papers would not get to their destination on Fridays. They would be hung up in the post office Brandon warehouse until Monday. That is simply unacceptable and I told the very nice person at Brandon regional office that this was unacceptable. She took that concern up the food chain only to be told that there was nothing that could be done. In other words, Canada Post decided to reduce services and not contact anyone about it. The two Waddell family owned newspapers make up one of Canada Post’s largest customers in south-western Manitoba but we didn’t so much as get a phone call from regional office. Nice!

A weekly newspaper simply can’t be held in storage for three days. It’s ridiculous, so we had to, on one day’s notice, change how we do things. Going forward, our ad deadlines will be hard and fast. There will be almost no room to adjust our deadlines because we have to get our paper to the printer several hours earlier than in the past. We now have to have our delivery person drive in the dark, at least in the winter months, to pick up the paper. In some cases, we have to ask our staff to work an evening shift to get the papers ready for Canada Post. It is disruptive, costly and to say the least, annoying. Our staff and our printer have all said, they will do what has to be done to meet the new schedule and I thank them for that.

But Canada Post doesn’t care. They are cutting service and cutting costs and at the regional and national level, they simply don’t care. They also don’t understand business or customers or service. Canada Post has been in decline for decades. They have a monopoly on first class mail. A stamp is a stamp is a stamp in every town in Canada. In return for the monopoly, Canada Post is supposed to provide mail delivery services to everyone. For some reason, CP clings to some door-to-door rural route mail delivery and that doesn’t make sense. City door-to-door delivery doesn’t make sense either unless there were an extra charge. Post office and group boxes are what most people get so why is there any door-to-door without an extra fee?

But making sense is not a common trait at Canada Post. Back in the day, about 30 years ago, when fax machines came in, Canada Post rejected that technology. They wouldn’t allow their staff to have a fax machine. They made staff come to our newspaper office to send or receive a fax. Why didn’t CP put in coin-operated fax machines? They could have been making a few extra dollars on faxing services.

Canada Post has also rejected the union appeals to provide more services. CP has buildings, staff, trucks and access to every person in Canada. Why can’t they open their eyes and seek out more services to offer the public.

Canada Post kicked us in the butt this week and I am very annoyed with them (again). Trust me, if we had a way of delivering papers that didn’t involve Canada Post, we would grab it. But Canada Post has the monopoly and for many locations we, as a newspaper, have no alternative.

As a newspaper, we extend our sincere thanks to the local Canada Post staff for all they do for us. They get it. Customer service is important and the local Canada Post people treat us very well. It is partly because they are just nice people but they also appreciate that one of the biggest cheques that comes in their door every week has my signature on it. Locally, they care. At the higher levels, Canada Post doesn’t seem to.