Reimagining your post office

·3 min read

Banking and broadband could be the future for Canada Post, Sexsmith town council learned July 5.

A report contracted by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) offers up a menu of new services to leverage Canada Post’s (CP) national network of postal outlets and staff.

The report, completed in 2018, suggests postal banking, internet services, a network of electric vehicle charging stations and even a vulnerable residents check could help boost the bottom line for Canada Post (CP).

The campaign involves utilizing some 6,400 post office outlets across Canada to offer new services.

With the largest corporate fleet in the country, CP’s conversion to electric -- and offering charging stations while retrofitting buildings to generate power through renewable energy -- is an ambitious vision, but one that will benefit CP as well as the public, reports Jan Simpson, CUPW national president.

It’s called ‘Delivering Community Power’ and CUPW believes it will benefit many smaller rural communities, said Simpson, who cites the eroding supply of letter mail, coupled with a sharp increase in parcel delivery.

It’s a “great opportunity to address multiple problems at once, with a valued public infrastructure that connects everyone in their own community,” said Simpson.

The CUPW resolution calls for the support of CP’s provision of

- banking services, a service many rural communities are without

- high-speed internet

- network of electric vehicle charging stations

- letter carriers can check-in on vulnerable residents/possibly deliver meals

Many of the recommendations stem from a 2016 report commission by CUPW called “The Way Forward for Canada Post.”

The report states that operating a bank as a subsidiary of Canada Post isn’t entirely new; the federal government already owns four, including Farm Credit Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada. It argues that the CP network already has the bricks and mortar building and staff in place.

The report further suggests postal corporations delivering internet services as well as free wi-fi is already in place in United Kingdom, France and Italy.

CUPW asked Sexsmith join the 1,000 other municipalities who have adopted resolutions in support of this plan, but after much debate, council opted to decline.

Sexsmith mayor Kate Potter said “there was concern about the cost of it and the way in which the union was trying to drum up support.

“The apparent support they say they have has not been verified.”

Sexsmith chief administration officer Rachel Wueschner said she reached out to other local municipalities to gauge regional support of the resolution. Wembley and the City of Grande Prairie accepted the CUPW letter as information only.

“I'm sure that (the delegate from CUPW) said other municipalities in the area supported it,” said Counc. Clint Froehlick, at the July 5 Sexsmith council meeting.

“It's going to cost a pile of money, and I don't know if billions, but it would be millions for sure,” he added.

Froehlick said he was happy to receive the information but doesn’t believe it relates to Sexsmith, compared to more remote municipalities.

Potter suggested to council that they write a letter saying that they are not in support at this time to not end up on a list looking like they were in support by just accepting it as information.

Council decided that they would accept the package for information and write a letter to CUPW and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement saying that they do not currently support the CUPW’s resolution.

The additional information from CUPW included a report from 2018 that showed successful postal banks around the world, including New Zealand and France.

The CUPW’s report says the simplest way to make postal banking work in Canada would be to make it a subsidiary of Canada Post.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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