If Canada Post spending cuts are not reversed the Penticton union president said it will have big effects locally.
“Seniors would be the most affected if they put up community mail boxes,” said Wayne Anderson, president of local 796 Penticton of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. “Seniors will have to walk to collect their mail up to 500 yards away from their house. You’re hurting seniors — sometimes (the mail carrier) is the only person a senior sees in a day.”
The federal government’s decision to apply cuts to Canada Post was announced on Dec. 11, 2013. Save Canada Post claims more than five million Canadians will be affected by new community mailboxes, and Canada will be the world’s first country to get rid of door-to-door delivery.
Proponents for Save Canada Post rolled their Winnebago into Penticton on Aug. 18 to express concerns for the implications which will result from budget cuts.
While the loss of door-to-door delivery in exchange for centralized mailboxes is top-of-mind for many, concerns regarding the loss of well-paying jobs were forefront during the stop in Penticton.
“They’re good paying jobs for the community,” said Anderson. “We make a fair, good wage and we work hard. If you cut those jobs, that’s money no longer being put into the communities.”
Anderson added not only do they believe it will effect seniors if community mailboxes are implemented, the likelihood of theft and littering will increase. The CUPE campaign has found sympathy in sharing their concerns.
Iris McElgunn, whose late husband spent 35 years working for Canada Post, said the postal system serves as a good substitution for people who don’t use the internet, particularly seniors, and she also values the security of having a carrier making deliveries personally.
“A lot of people really look forward to having the mail come.”
Amid the current election campaign, representatives of the union protecting postal workers are crossing the country to drum up support for new leadership in Ottawa.
Anderson feels the NDP would be the best alternative to the incumbent government, as the party has pledged to reverse service cuts, “and give Canadians services that they deserve.”
“Stephen Harper’s not our friend. He’s not a postal workers friend. He’s not a friend of most Canadians,” he said. “A lot of things hinge right now on the election that’s coming up on Oct. 19.”
CUPE national president Mike Palecek said the campaign has so far generated “pages and pages” of petition signatures, as well as countless constructive discussions and signs of support from the public.
“We’ll continue campaigning until Oct. 19 — it’s the petition for a new prime minister.”
Because Canada Post reported significant profits earlier this year, Palecek criticized the government’s business sense in applying the cuts.
“It’s not just about losing door to door service, it’s about the downsizing of post offices, jacking up stamp prices, the restructuring of pension plans, and other unnecessary cuts.”
After launching mid-July from Newfoundland, the Winnebago was in Nelson before reaching Penticton, and then headed north to Kelowna before its ultimate destination on Vancouver Island.