The union representing postal workers is launching a constitutional challenge against Canada Post’s move to eliminate door-to-door home delivery.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers announced Thursday that it is asking the Federal Court to put a stop to Canada Post’s changes first announced last December.
“In Canada, people should count, not just the bottom line,” said CUPW national president Denis Lemelin, in a news release.
It is filing the challenge on the grounds the changes violate the rights of seniors and those with disabilities, protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It will also argue that this decision is beyond Canada Post’s authority and should be made by the Parliament of Canada which created Canada Post and defined its mandate.
“This is one of the most important postal decisions which has ever been made since Canada Post was created in 1981,” said Paul Cavalluzzo, a leading constitutional lawyer, who will be arguing the case, in a news release.
In a statement, Canada Post says it is confident its plan will “withstand any and all legal scrutiny.”
It acknowledges the transition to move about a third of households to community mailboxes was a difficult decision, but noted two-thirds of Canadian households do not receive mail delivery at the door.
“The changes being made are necessary to secure the future of postal service in Canada and avoid becoming a burden on the taxpayers,” Canada Post said.
Last December, Canada Post announced sweeping changes to cut costs, saying the drop in demand for mail delivery is forcing changes, forecasting millions in losses. The five-point action plan includes addressing labour costs.
Canada Post plans to eliminate door-to-door delivery to five million addresses in Canada over the next five years. In March, it hiked the price of domestic stamps from 63 cents to 85 cents, if bought in bulk, but $1 a stamp for single sales.
Oakville is among the first 11 communities about to be switched to community mailboxes this fall.
Dense neighbourhoods in big cities like Toronto and Montreal will be among the last to change over, in part because the post office still needs to figure out how best to adapt to small lots and narrow streets.
The planned end of door-to-door delivery has irked many Canadians especially seniors and the disabled, who say getting to a community mailbox will be difficult for some, especially in bad weather.
Seniors were furious with Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra, who when testifying before a House of Commons committee last December, suggested seniors would welcome the change because they could get more exercise.
Last August, Canada Post also upset Canada’s doctors when it implemented a policy that would allow people to keep home delivery if they got a doctor’s note.
“This demonstrates a complete lack of awareness of the challenges facing health-care professionals and patients seeking access to care,” said Louis Hugo Francescutti, president of the Canadian Medical Association, in a statement at the time.
While Canada Post has been suffering financial pressures, its latest financial report showed it earned a net profit of $42 million in the second quarter, compared to a loss of $71 million in the same period a year earlier.
Its profit before tax for the three months ended June 28 was $53 million, compared to a loss of $104 million a year earlier. It attributed the profit to growth in its parcel delivery business and lower employee benefit costs.