Blogs & Comment

Little has changed at Canada Post

It's back to the same old march into oblivion unless there is substantive change.

Locked out Canada Post employees hold a “die-in” during a rally outside the main post office in Vancouver, B.C., on June 27, 2011 (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP)

Has anything changed for the better now that postal workers have been legislated back to work? Not likely. If anything, the situation has become worse.

For one thing, forcing someone to do something usually leaves them sullen and resentful—not ideal grounds for getting the best out of your employees. Problems like high rates of absenteeism are likely to persist at Canada Post. It would be much better to allow “the invisible hand” of market forces to guide Canadian Post and its workers—as discussed in “20 reasons for ending Canada Post’s monopoly.”

Reacting to the back-to-work order, one union vice president said the “Harper government is going to wear this for a long time to come … we’ll be coming up for bargaining in the next four years and we’re going to prepare for that round—our members are determined to keep up the fight.”

As usual, the unions overlook the realities of markets. In another four years, the number of letters and payments delivered per household will have continued to decline in the face of e-mail and other electronic methods of transmission—further reducing Canada Post’s relevancy and unions’ bargaining power.

This scenario seems guaranteed given advancing electronic-communication technology and Canada Post’s ongoing 20% phased-in increase of stamp prices over the five years to 2014 (above the rate of inflation). As it stands, Canada Post is destined to become little more than a vehicle for delivering advertising circulars and other forms of junk mail to Canadians.