All around the world, postal services are successfully reinventing themselves to better meet the needs of their citizens in the 21st century.
What if we told you that postal workers have a plan to fight climate change and deliver vital new services to every corner of the country? Elder check-ins, low-fee postal banking, high-speed internet, and climate-friendly delivery with a fleet of electric vehicles.
Welcome to the postal service of the future.
While Canada’s six largest banks earned more than $46 billion in profits in 2019 alone, they continue to abandon rural communities by closing bank branches because of low profit margins. Today, there are over 1,200 rural communities with post offices but no banks or credit unions. And only 54 of 615 Indigenous communities are served by local bank branches.
While hundreds of thousands of low-income Canadians don’t have bank accounts at all, about 2 million Canadians rely on predatory payday lenders for basic financial services.
Canada used to have postal banking until 1968, when the big banks successfully lobbied for the service to be cancelled.
Postal banking is relatively straightforward. Like the big banks you’re used to, post offices would provide everyday financial services like chequing and savings accounts, loans and insurance. Postal banking could also be used to deliver government loans, grants and subsidies to boost renewable energy projects and energy-saving retrofits.
In many countries, postal banking is also mandated to provide financial access for all citizens and to play a role in addressing social inequalities. Postal banking could provide reliable financial services that everyone needs at affordable rates.
By offering banking services through its network of over 6,000 postal outlets, Canada could overnight become the most accessible bank in the country. And revenues raised by postal banking could help pay for new expanded services.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in our long-term care homes have shone a light on the need for better supports for seniors. Living at home ensures that seniors can continue to make decisions about their daily lives and remain connected to their social networks.
What if postal workers could help seniors live independently in their own homes for longer?
In addition to helping seniors, elder check-ins could bring peace of mind to loved ones and relatives who don’t live nearby. Japan, France, Belgium, Denmark and Germany currently offer effective and successful senior check-in services through their national postal services.
Door-to-door postal workers are already watchful of signs that something isn’t quite right. They could be allotted extra time on their routes to check in on seniors or people with mobility issues who sign up for the service. Check-ins could be as simple as seeing if there’s a regular “ok” sign in the window or a brief social visit.
Postal workers could also become a point of contact between seniors and healthcare or social services when the need arises. Postal workers are already trusted and reliable members of our communities. Why not leverage our 26,000 door-to-door postal workers to provide further supports to seniors?
Elder check-ins are not new to Canada. Started in 1980, the Letter Carrier Alert program still exists in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
Despite a decade of promises, high-speed internet expansion in Canada has been painfully slow. Today, 3.4 million Canadians still don’t have access to high-speed internet in their communities. Rural and remote residents are paying outrageously high prices for slow internet with low data caps. Many pay as much as $100 per month for a 1 Mbps connection.
Canada Post offices are secure locations that could be adapted to house broadband internet servers, extending high-speed internet service farther than the big for-profit telecoms are willing to go. In today’s world, high-speed internet is a human right.
And our post office can deliver it. The Canada Post Corporation Act, which created Canada Post Corporation, and the Canadian Postal Services Charter, mandate the postal service to adapt to our society’s communications needs as they change.
As basic food and grocery prices continue to climb well-above the rate of inflation, access to fresh, affordable food is a growing concern across the country. In Northern and remote communities, the problem is magnified as food insecurity rates impact more than 60% of households.
Canada Post already moves goods to every corner of the country through its vast logistics and transportation network. We can leverage and retool this network to bring farm-to-table food delivery to doorsteps across the country, helping to sustain local farms while expanding access to fresh foods. And we can bring back a new-and-improved Food Mail program to help make food more affordable in the North.
Canada Post used to operate the Food Mail program, which helped make food more affordable in the North. But the program was replaced with Nutrition North, which subsidizes private retailers instead and isn’t getting reliable results.
Why not put more of what we all need on the Canada Post trucks?
There is no doubt that electric vehicles (EVs) are the way of the future. EVs reduce local pollution and significantly contribute to climate change mitigation efforts. But while electric vehicle prices have fallen dramatically over the past few years, one important barrier to widespread adoption of EVs is lack of consumer confidence in the availability of public charging stations.
With more post offices than there are Tim Horton’s in the country, we can help pave the way for more electrification by installing public charging stations at every Canada Post office.
Post offices are already centrally located, accessible and highly visible. By extending the nationwide EV charging network to every corner of the country, our post offices will become hubs of the new green economy.
Canada lags behind other countries in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, accounting for only 3% of new car sales. Norway leads with 74%, followed by Iceland at 45% and Sweden at 32% EV market share in new car sales. A green transition requires large-scale public investment in renewables. Why not put our largest public infrastructure at the centre of that transformation?
Post offices can be reimagined to better meet the needs of the communities they serve. As community hubs, post offices could act as drop-in centres for youth, seniors or other local groups.
Adjacent outdoor spaces could be turned into artisan and farmers’ markets, connecting community members to fresh food and local goods. Indoor pop-up spaces for local businesses could showcase local quality products. And in some communities, post offices could even provide tourism information, fishing or hunting licenses.
Green the Canada Post fleet with union-made electric vehicles, creating green jobs in Canada and significantly reducing our carbon output.
Retrofit Canada Post buildings with solar panels for cost savings and to help fight climate change.
Expand the use of Canada Post as the consolidated last mile delivery to ease congestion and pollution in our cities caused in part by too many delivery trucks that aren’t full to capacity.
As Canada’s largest public infrastructure, Canada Post can have substantial influence and lead the way for other Canadian companies to become more sustainable.
Did you know?
Canada Post operates the largest vehicle fleet in the country — that’s a huge footprint and a huge opportunity.
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