Remarks by:
Lynn Dollin, AMO President and
Deputy Mayor, Town of Innisfil

Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Ontario Science Centre
Room:  Telus and Bistro
770 Don Mills Road
Toronto, Ontario M3C 1T3


Canada Post

(Check Against Delivery)

Thank you for providing the Association of Municipalities of Ontario with the opportunity to appear before this Committee and contribute to your discussions about Canada Post.  This is an issue that is very important to Ontario’s residents.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is a non-profit organization that represents almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments.  Municipal governments have many legislated responsibilities and are also seen as voices for broader community interests.   

AMO welcomes the current efforts of the federal government to explore ways of enhancing postal service across Canada.  Communities of all sizes depend upon postal services whether it’s to receive and pay bills, delivery of on-line shopping and other needs to support businesses, or to hear from loved ones and stay connected to organizations, charities and others.  We appreciate the federal government’s decision to slow down the ending of door-to-door mail delivery by undertaking this new review.    

AMO, as a member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and working with our own membership were dismayed by the move to community mailboxes as the postal delivery model for the nation.  

After the release of Canada Post’s Five-Point Action Plan, many of AMO’s members passed council resolutions expressing outrage with the phase out of door-to-door mail delivery. While Canada Post noted it had a financial challenge, the end of the service would create financial and other issues for citizens and business.  We heard consistently about:
  • Accessibility, especially for seniors and people that live with disabilities; and
  • The responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of community mailboxes. This includes everything from paving, lighting, snow removal, clean-up, and policing related to vandalism and theft around community mailboxes.  
This last point is absolutely critical for municipal governments.  We have no interest in inheriting or being made accountable, directly or indirectly, for a federal service responsibility of maintaining community mailboxes.

The City of Hamilton has acted upon these concerns, taking the issue to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The City is defending its bylaw that regulates the installation of equipment on, in and under the municipal road allowance.

This includes Canada Post’s community mailboxes.  While we await the Court of Appeal’s decision, municipal governments do not see themselves having any role in maintaining this new infrastructure placed on our property. Our citizens in rural Ontario are very interested with this review. Many of them were the first to see the shift away from door-to-door mail delivery.  Distances between houses and businesses in rural areas can be significant and personal transportation options can be limited.  These are also typically areas where larger amounts of Ontario’s seniors’ population reside as their youth move to cities.  

The concerns of rural communities are reflected in the 2009 Canadian Postal Service Charter, which maintains a moratorium on rural post office closures and establishes service standards for both postal delivery and post office accessibility.  It is crucial that any changes to Canada Post’s operational services are consistent with the Charter.

Some municipal governments have also raised the issue of postal banking.  Reintroducing these services may remedy some of the difficulties faced by rural, remote and northern communities, which have limited access to financial institutions.  

Some believe that the internet has been replacing the need.  Surprisingly, in Ontario, high-speed internet is not universal.  In fact, many parts of Ontario are not yet covered by reliable internet service.
 
These are several of the issues that have been raised in our communities and brought forward by municipal governments for consideration.

Should there be changes in door-to-door mail delivery we urge the federal government to respect municipal decision making authority so that there is no conflict with local land use planning practices or policies.

AMO has endorsed FCM’s three key principles and they should be reflected in any changes that are made to Canada Post services.

First, should the federal government decide to continue with the plan to phase out door-to-door delivery, then we want meaningful consultations with municipal governments.  Land-use planning, service delivery, and right-of-way management is unique in each municipality. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work.  Canada Post must consult with municipal governments so that the location of community mailboxes meets the needs of the community.

Second, we encourage the development of good partnerships between our orders of government.  As I said earlier, the sector has no interest in inheriting the responsibility to maintain community mailboxes.  Either Canada Post must work with municipal governments to develop agreeable processes to maintain this infrastructure or Canada Post must compensate us for this work.

Finally, any federal decisions should be in congruence with municipal planning.  Any changes to door-to-door mail delivery must align with local strategies and processes aimed at fostering and supporting age and/or disability-friendly communities. Unique strategies must be developed in partnership with municipal governments and/or individuals.

We believe that by following these principles, both the federal and the municipal orders of governments will be best positioned to work together.

Thank you.