Canadian Union of Postal Workers raise issues of reduction in postal services

GORE BAY—With a reduction in services at the Gore Bay Post Office, a lack of dialogue with the public before initiating changes and “unacceptable” answers from Canada Post, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW Local 612) came to give a presentation on dwindling postal services and look for public input from the residents of Gore Bay. Unfortunately, as was the case in July after a similar Tehkummah meeting, not one member of the Gore Bay public came to provide input at the meeting held in the Legion hall in Gore Bay this past Saturday.

The September meeting in Gore Bay was planned by Dave Merrick (president of CUPW Local 612) who has been on the local 612 executive since 1987. “The meeting we had planned for Gore Bay right after Tehkummah had to be rescheduled because there were too many conflicting activities taking place then. Everybody was busy in the peak summer season. We had hoped the new date would have brought more people out,” he said.

The key for Mr. Merrick is “to find out what people want from their post office and from Canada Post. If Canada Post is stopping door-to-door deliveries for example, perhaps stopping rural deliveries is in the future.” For him, “getting rid of the post office in a small village is how you get rid of communities.”

Past articles in the Recorder have highlighted the issues council has had with Canada Post, namely closing the local post office on Saturdays, sending all rural mail to Toronto for sorting and processing before sending it back and their approach with council and “their b.s. statement on the decision (to close Saturdays) based on commercially sensitive information,” according to Councillor Jack Clark.

Gore Bay town Councillor Lou Addison showed up at Saturday’s meeting as the union representatives were packing up for the day.

“We have sent letters to Canada Post and received no reply. Nothing,” she said. “I phoned (head office) a couple of times because I have a real problem with the mail going to Toronto. I told them, ‘you’re absolutely nuts if you think the mail is going to be there and back in a couple of days.’ I tracked a letter I sent to Manitowaning and it took nine working days just to get there. You can’t tell me it’s a better system. It would be easier for me to take my letter and drive it to Manitowaning.”

“You’re really hesitant now to even put anything in the mail, because you know it isn’t going to get there in any reasonable time,” Ms. Addison said.

Mr. Merrick said this is a tactic to force people to use premium mail service like XpressPost. He said mail is being sent to Toronto and sitting there for days before being put through the sorting machine. He continued to say sorting facilities are putting priority on the Greater Toronto Area mail before sorting other regions like Sudbury and Manitoulin Islands.

Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane, who was unable to attend Saturday’s meeting told the Recorder in an email, “as I have stated before I am opposed to any reduction in service at our post office and disappointed with the fact Canada Post has chosen to do this without public consultation. In my view the delivery of mail and related work is still an essential public service in this country and if Canada Post as a Crown corporation cannot meet public needs then the federal government will have to reassess how this service will be provided. They (CUPW 612) have my full support personally and as mayor.”

Mr. Merrick said the union would be returning next spring/early summer to give a presentation to the rural mail delivery agents. At that time, they will also schedule another public presentation and allow for public input on local postal issues.

“One solution is to vote,” Mr. Merrick said. “If we vote Stephen Harper out of office or even get a minority government, we might be able to stop the diminishing services.”