The Canada Post strike of November 1997 and lock-out of June 2011 were irritating. In 1997 I accomplished personal firsts: stepped onto Caribbean soil and experienced a birthday on a beach! A winter baby doesn’t celebrate in a swimsuit, nor under a spectacular waterfall. I achieved both feats in St. Lucia.
More fun than internet cafés (who replies to make it worthwhile?) is the tradition of postcards. I love choosing views, using a foreign post office. I buy several of a country’s stamps at once and watch for mailboxes: early, to eradicate the excuse “you’ll be home before it gets there”.
In 1997, before family postcards could reach Canada, the strike hit. Worse than frustrating, I was trying to confirm I’d arrived! The internet was as scarce as an outgoing telephone, in the humble town. My friend solely received incoming calls because if her plan dialled out, neighbours would line up to use it. That strike also came close to jeopardizing Christmas mail, the most important service period.
Communication is tricky overseas. You can’t call from a bed and breakfast, you don’t want to charge a friend’s cell, and land lines aren’t all set up long-distance. Recently in the U.K, I tried phone booths for 3 days, to reach home. Only two hotels provided internet. My U.K. friend uses LINUX. Strange but true, if you don’t run a Microsoft operating system; hotmail produces blanks… Postcards remain the easiest way to get a word out!
During a dispute, Canada Post CEOs don’t delegate interim delivery, nor let us pick-up! Property must not be held hostage again. It’s taken weeks to catch up. Re-opening upon the July 1, Canada Day statutory closure didn’t help! Through this June 14-28 lock-out, I monitored public comments and all political sides. We can protect mail by declaring Canada Post an essential service. Others feel it should cease to be a crown corporation. The government could no longer intervene but competition would be possible.
It would behove Canada Post to be pressed into better service, not enforce “a stamp costs what it costs and that’s that”. Couriers could lower prices to compete. The sting isn’t stamps but ridiculous width & weight limits. Only a pitiful 30 grams gets away on the base 59c stamp ($1.03 USA, $1.75 world). Without high-speed internet, I send pictures by mail… CDs of pictures. Music, blu-rays, books grow costly but service quality doesn’t rise with it! Monopoly on mail may be the reason and Canada Post employees seem as dissatisfied as customers.
The risk is: a private company might favour dollar signs. Would outposts be limited to high traffic areas, like cities? Villages like mine could suffer. A pick-up notice is hard enough to claim during my town’s lean hours. Federal mail ensures everyone has a post office. If a private company won’t erase a single postal code nor reduce hours, I’m in. Otherwise declaration of an essential service, which it certainly is to me, is the best bet.