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Junking the Mail
Canada Axes Home Mail Delivery

Facing massive losses and declining mail volumes, Canada Post, the country’s primary mail delivery service, has announced that it will begin phasing out door-to-door delivery in urban areas. Instead, mail will be delivered to local “community mailboxes” where locals can come to pick up their mail. The change comes as part of a larger overhaul that will see the price of stamps rise and the number of employees fall, as well as some changes to the organization’s pension system. As USA Today reports, the Canadian government is backing the plan:

“The Government of Canada supports Canada Post in its efforts to fulfill its mandate of operating on a self-sustaining basis in order to protect taxpayers, while modernizing its business and aligning postal services with the choices of Canadians,” Lisa Raitt said in a news release. […]

“With the increasing use of digital communication and the historic decline of letter mail volumes, Canada Post has begun to post significant financial losses,” the agency said in a press release. “If left unchecked, continued losses would soon jeopardize its financial self-sufficiency and become a significant burden on taxpayers and customers.”

The USPS gets considerable flak for its inability to keep its finances in line, but the experiences of Canada and the UK are a reminder that it’s far from alone. Door-to-door mail delivery of the kind practiced by national postal services simply isn’t a sustainable business model in an age where email can fill the same function far more effectively for free. Changes like the push to get involved in online shopping deliveries and setting up mail kiosks in retail establishments are both good ones, but they will need to be coupled with a massive overhaul of the agency’s workforce and organizational structure for the USPS to return to solvency. Congress should take a hint from our neighbors and let USPS make changes like this as well.

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  • Kevin

    Seems like another aspect of the growth of government leading to a decline in the competency of its core functions.

  • Corlyss

    Interesting factoid: America didn’t have home delivery until a postmaster in Ohio couldn’t stand the emotional wreckage he had to deal with when patrons came to the post office to read the lists of the local soldiers killed and missing in the Civil War. We’ve gotten used to it home delivery. We can get used to something else. My mail carrier told me last week that the first class mail had dropped precipitously, even in this season of Xmas cards, while packages had exploded. We’re using the post office like UPS and FedEx. Why not just give ’em the whole business?

    • Andrew Allison

      What we should do is encourage FedEx, UPS, etc., to deliver all packages for home delivery to suburban and rural customers via USPS which, in turn, should deliver regular mail every other day (excluding Sunday) and priority (overnight) mail every day. That way, the private carriers save a lot of driving (for which they should pay) and USPS gets to keep more than half its vehicular carriers and their vehicles.

      • Corlyss

        I like the idea.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Monopolies are always inefficient wasteful kludges. Without the “Feedback of Competition” forcing continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price, they always will be. The USPS should be broken up and sold to private interests, like what was done to AT&T, and look how well that turned out with all the smart phones. Imagine efficient home delivery of everything, you never need to drive anywhere unless you want to, and no traffic when you do.

    • Andrew Allison

      You may be right, but some monopolies are inescapable. Defense, Federal debt and police powers spring to mind. This is essentially the same problem as with healthcare, namely, the need to decide which is more important: daily delivery or delivery to every address. The USPS could possibly remain solvent by delivering “first class” mail every other day (excluding Sunday — c.f. the idiocy of the deal with Amazon to deliver on Sunday) and Priority Mail every day and dispensing with half the carriers and most of the vehicles. Better yet, eliminate delivery requirements, truly privatize it and let the chips fall where they may.

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