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Union slams Canada Post plans
Crown corporation looking for private business to host retail outlet

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Canada Post's plan to add a second privately-owned retail post office in Yellowknife is drawing fire from union members.

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Miranda Powell, president of the Yellowknife branch of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, says Canada Post should try expanding services at its corporate post office instead of looking to private businesses to host additional Canada Post retail outlets. - Thandiwe Vela/NNSL photo

The Crown corporation currently has one corporate downtown post office and one retail outlet operated by Shoppers Drug Mart, and has been trying to find another business that will host a third retail post office, Canada Post spokesperson Anick Losier confirmed to Yellowknifer.

Union members are accusing the Crown corporation of trying to increase the number of privately-owned retail post offices in Yellowknife in an effort to downsize or eventually close its corporate office.

"We're not closing the corporate post office. Absolutely not," Losier said. "That's not what we're doing.

"The plan is to open a third outlet in Yellowknife because we know we have only two. We're just trying to make it more convenient for the people of Yellowknife."

The franchise model allows the corporation to add to its network without the cost of workforce, maintaining buildings or rent, Losier said.

"As you would understand, adding another corporate post office would just add a lot more cost than having one hosted in a business. And at the end of the day what we're trying to do is adding more points of access where people shop. So that's why the franchise model is a great way to compliment our corporate post offices," she said.

Miranda Powell, president of the Yellowknife branch of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said the opening of more private retail offices across the country is a strategy that ultimately results in the closure of the corporate outlets.

Powell said she has been informed that Canada Post plans to open two more retail post offices (RPOs) in Yellowknife.

"By opening two more RPOs they could say you have many places to get the post office service you're looking for within an area where the post office is, so that it becomes easier then, a couple years down the road, for them to either downsize the post office and move it, or to get rid of it entirely," Powell said.

"We want a public post office. And we want to maintain our public post office. And we feel that by opening two more private retail outlets, that puts the public post office at risk."

The retail office will take away service from the downtown post office, added Mary Lou Cherwaty, president of the Northern Territories Federation of Labour.

"Canada Post has closed 25 of its regular postal service outlets because of the privatizing of the services to other retail outlets. That's the danger and the concern," Cherwaty said.

While Canada Post announced a $327-million deficit last year, Deepak Chopra, the Crown corporation's president and CEO was in Yellowknife last February, when he told Yellowknifer that parcel delivery in the city jumped 300 per cent last Christmas.

The corporation has been looking at "transformational ideas" to stay economically viable, Chopra added.

Canada Post notified the union in March of its plans to open another private retail office in Yellowknife.

The union has 90 days to present a counter-plan.

This summer, if a counter-plan is not accepted by Canada Post, the corporation will begin soliciting Yk businesses to host a post office, Losier said.

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