Another case of too much, too soon

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We could see this one coming. Households and businesses don’t rely on postal service as much as they used to, and that can only mean one thing: downsizing.

Canada Post announced major changes Wednesday to mail service to begin next year, including the phasing out of door-to-door delivery in favour of community boxes and eliminating 6,000 to 8,000 positions – mainly through attrition the Crown corporation hastens to add.

Officials at Canada Post say the change is in response to rising costs and decreasing volumes of mail, and that the five-stage plan will help save $900 million a year.

Canadians had to brace for drastic change as they increasingly relied on email. Even at this time a year – what proportion of the population still sends traditional Christmas cards rather than electronic greetings?

The federal government supports the changes in the interest of a self-sustaining corporation.

Members of the opposition, naturally, question the decisions, with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau asking where is the in-depth study on the potential impact? Green Party leader Elizabeth May makes the critical observation that the changes will disproportionately affect the elderly and people with disabilities.

This is reminiscent of stopping distribution of tax forms because so many were filing using online programs and the paper forms were wasted. It’s a good idea in theory, but it’s based on the assumption that everyone is handy on a computer and has access to one.

Overall, the postal plan makes sense, and is inevitable, but it’s of the too-much, too-soon category. Phase these things in over a longer period, with warnings, and people will catch up to the future. There will be a computer in every home and everyone will understand e-billing and e-finance.

Too often it’s people living in a crystal palace in Toronto or Ottawa making these decisions, without considering what barriers they’re setting up for a sizable portion of the population.

Organizations: Canada Post, Green Party

Geographic location: Toronto, Ottawa

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