OTTAWA — A program launched by the Harper Conservatives to end door-to-door mail delivery in Canada was formally ended Wednesday by the Trudeau government as part of a new plan the Liberals say will eventually put Canada Post on a more sound financial footing.
However, the roughly 840,000 households that have converted to community mail boxes since 2014 were told they won’t get the service back — a decision postal workers and the opposition New Democrats declared a broken promise.
Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough, who announced the plan at a mail sorting plant in a Toronto suburb, said the cost of restoring home delivery was just too great.
“We did a cost analysis, we looked at the potential disruptive impact that might have, and we decided to adopt a forward-looking vision for Canada Post,” Qualtrough said.
“Basically, we’re not going to put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
The Liberals froze mailbox conversions after coming to power in 2015. The decision to make that freeze permanent means Canada Post won’t realize an estimated $350 million in annual savings from ending door-to-door delivery for the remaining 4.2 million addresses across the country that still get mail dropped at their doorstep.
At least one analyst warned that will hamper the Crown corporation’s ability to remain self-sustaining, and merely kicks the problem of collapsing letter mail volumes down the road.
“This is going to become a great big black hole for the government,” said Ian Lee, a professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business.
Canada Post said it made a profit of roughly $81 million from all of its operations in 2016, down from $99 million the previous year. It called the new plan “a valuable blueprint” it can use to ensure the corporation remains financially strong.
A Liberal-dominated House of Commons committee recommended more than a year ago that the post office devise a plan to reinstate door-to-door delivery. But the price tag for doing that would reach $195 million, plus ongoing costs of about $90 million annually, Canada Post estimated.