The Great Community Mailbox Debate

4 March 2014

Got mail? If you’re used to having your bills, letters and cards dropped off at your doorstep, you better prepare to kiss that convenient and personalized service goodbye. Within the next five years, Canada Post will slowly be phasing out door-to-door delivery of all regular mail for urban residents. Instead, your mail will be sent to a community mailbox, which is expected to reduce significant financial losses and a burden on taxpayers — a projected $1- billion deficit by 2020 if a major change isn’t made.

For some, it might not be all that big of a deal. After all, community mailboxes have been around since the 1980s — the same time new town home developments became popular. However, seniors with mobility issues, people with disabilities and business owners wanting quick and easy access to their mail are most likely to find the switch to be a big challenge. There are also thousands of postal workers, many of whom who have worked with Canada Post for decades, who will be out of a job and in the unemployment line.

Dubbed by the national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) as the ”end of an era,” there’s no doubt about it that there are some big perks and pitfalls to changing the snail mail delivery service most of us have grown quite accustomed and attached to.

Now before you panic, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of facts to take consider. Here’s a list of pros and con’s for the great community mailbox debate that will provide you with some food for thought.

Pros Of Community Mailboxes

Save the Environment
– Thanks to the digital mail revolution, we’re using less paper to communicate with friends, family and bill collectors.It’s Time For a Change – Let’s face it —it’s pretty convenient to send a message or letter at the click of a mouse. And when it comes to paying or getting bills, all one has to do is go online rather than wait in a long line at the bank. Nowadays, the majority of us option for the digital route when it comes to communication as opposed to the time it takes to send and receive snail mail. In addition to being easy, there are no postage costs to worry about.

Will Save Taxpayers Money – With the decline of letter mail volumes, Canada Post has faced significant financial losses — a number that could eventually become a huge problem for both taxpayers and Canada Post customers. It’s estimated that the deficit will hit 1-billion dollars by 2020 if changes aren’t implemented soon.

Save on Labour Costs – Yes, thousands will be without a job, however, around 15,000 workers will leave the company or retire within the next five years anyway.

Financial Stability – According to Canada Post, this plan will help return it to financial stability by 2019 so the burden won’t be on taxpayers.

Cons Of Community Mailboxes

Inconvenience to Hit Home – With one’s mail no longer being delivered to their doorstep, this means having to get dressed and take a stroll to the community mailbox — even in the snow and rain — to check their mail.

A Challenge for Many – Seniors and individuals with disabilities are likely to have a tough time with this change. In a recent statement, the seniors advocacy group CARP noted that the changes will create a barrier for elderly residents, particularly those with mobility issues.

“People who do not have family or caregivers will be denied access to necessary communications — whether bills or more important to them, letters from family,” stated the group.
And while many will have no problem keeping track of bills and correspondence online, seniors tend to not be as computer-savvy as younger age groups.

Postage Costs to Rise – Starting March 31, a standard-size first-class letter will increase to 85 cents if purchased in a pack, up from 63 cents. Individual stamps will soon cost you a dollar. This price increase could make the postal delivery service inaccessible for many.

Major Job Loss – It is estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 Canada Post Employees will be out of a job, due to the shift to community mailboxes.

More Mail Theft – Mail theft in community mailboxes is on the rise in communities across the country — it’s without a doubt, a growing concern for millions of Canadians living in urban areas. Some worry this number will increase, resulting in more cases of identity theft and fraud. Will you feel comfortable having your cheques sent to a community mailbox, rather than your home? Note: Fortunately, there are companies that will deliver your cheques straight to your door, even after the door-to-door mail service is a thing of the past.

Change is never easy, especially when it involves any added costs and inconvenience. However, there’s no disputing the numbers; Canada Post has already been hit hard by financial loss — an amount that will only get bigger if something isn’t done soon. Ultimately, this burden will get put onto the taxpayer’s shoulders. Don’t worry —this change isn’t going to happen overnight.

The first communities set to lose their door-to-door service will be announced in the second half of 2014.

About the Author:

Jon Gilchrist
Jon Gilchrist is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Cheques Now Inc. His professional life is dedicated to providing business owners, payroll managers and accountants with secure, low-cost cheques. Follow him on Google+.

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