Canada Post is saying goodbye to the door-to-door postal carrier as it looks for new ways turn around its money-losing business.
The national mail service says rising costs and falling mail volumes have made it impossible to continue its traditional operations, so it plans to put a five-stage plan into action that will help save up to $900 million a year.
The federal Crown corporation will phase out home delivery within the next five years by replacing delivery by foot with community mail boxes, raise postal rates and cut thousands of jobs.
Canada Post spokeswoman Carley Smith noted that most postal carriers are concentrated in urban centres, where businesses in particular receive letters delivered directly to their offices.
Canada Post says about 6,000 to 8,000 positions will be eliminated over the same time period, mainly through attrition. The postal service expects nearly 15,000 employees to retire or leave the company in the next five years.
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The staff cutbacks are not factored into its financial projections, though Canada Post said those savings will be "significant."
About a third of Canadian homes still receive mail to their door, it said.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers called the cost-cutting decisions by Canada "short-sighted and foolish".
"If this happens, it would be the end of an era for Canada Post," said Denis Lemelin, CUPW national president. "We recognize that Canada Post needs to change, but this is not the way," he said.
The announcement comes in the midst of the busiest time of year for postal outlets, which handle a dramatic rise in both letters and packages for the Christmas holiday.
But the company says its business model is unsustainable, and it will start making the changes next year with the first neighbourhoods being converted to community mailboxes in the last half of 2014.
"Canada Post has begun to post significant financial losses," it said in the announcement.
"If left unchecked, continued losses would soon jeopardize its financial self-sufficiency and become a significant burden on taxpayers and customers."
On Wednesday, Ottawa announced that it would bring in new regulations that will give pension relief from the need to make special payments to reduce the Crown corporation's $5.9-billion solvency deficit. Canada Post would have been required to make $1 billion in solvency payments next year.
"This measure will address the immediate need for additional liquidity by mid-2014," the company said.
"During the relief period, Canada Post will act with urgency to restructure the pension plan in order to ensure its long-term sustainability."
Other planned changes include a tiered pricing structure for letter mail sent within the country.
The price of stamps will also rise by 35 per cent to 85 cents per stamp when purchased in a booklet, starting on March 31. Stamps that are purchased one at a time will cost $1 each. The changes require approval by regulators.
The popularity of stamps has been on the decline with the average Canadian household buying less than two stamps per month, Canada Post said.
Aside from the reduction in employees, the postal service expects to save $700 million to $900 million each year through the changes.
The reaction from other political leaders has been mixed.
"Conservatives are destroying Canadians' long-treasured postal services," said New Democrat MP Olivia Chow. "These job-killing and service-cutting measures will isolate seniors, the poor and the disabled living in urban areas."
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said she supports the changes planned by Canada Post.
"In today's digital age, Canadians are sending less mail than ever," she said in a statement.
"I look forward to seeing progress as Canada Post rolls out its plan for an efficient, modern postal service that protects taxpayers and is equipped to meet Canadians' needs now and in the future."
The postal service has faced intense competition from couriers, as well as technology that has led to a growing popularity of consumers paying their bills and communicating online.
A study from the Conference Board of Canada released in April said that the postal service will be losing $1 billion a year by 2020.
In the third quarter, Canada Post reported an improved, but still big, pre-tax loss of $109 million for the period ended Sept. 28. The pre-tax loss in the comparable period a year ago was $145 million.
VCRs And VHS Tapes
The DVD was invented in 1995, introduced in the United States in 1997, and, by the early 2000s, had generally overtaken VHS tapes as the video format of choice for consumers. In 2005, the<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/26/AR2005082600332.html" target="_hplink"> Washington Post</a> penned an obituary of sorts for the VHS tape, writing, "VHS -- the beloved videotape format that bravely won the war against Betamax and charmed millions of Americans by allowing them to enjoy mindless Hollywood entertainment without leaving their homes -- has died at the age of 29. It passed away peacefully after a long illness caused by chronic technological insignificance and a lack of director's commentary tracks." The president of the Video Software Dealers Association told the Post he thought 2006 would be "the last year that there are major releases on VHS, and there won't be many of those."
The proliferation of sites like Kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hipmunk, which have empowered consumers to find their own fares and easily book their own flights, together with the rise of websites and apps that give travelers the information they need to plan their own itineraries, have changed the travel industry in drastic ways. The days of recruiting a travel agent to book flights, find hotels, and organize tours are on their way out--and already gone for many.
The Separation Between Work Life And Personal Life
Our way of working has changed drastically this decade. These days, we no longer have to be in the office or even near a computer to be at work or in touch. With smartphones that are ever-more ubiquitous and ever-smarter, along with ultra-light laptops and WiFi in planes, trains, and automobiles, we can reply to our colleagues on the go and are accessible anywhere.
"The web means the end of forgetting," wrote the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/magazine/25privacy-t2.html" target="_hplink">New York Times</a> earlier this year. "The Internet records everything and forgets nothing." Indeed, increasingly there's a digital copy of everything we do: the emails we send, the phone calls we make, the places we go, the pictures we take, the opinions we write. Google CEO Eric Schmidt even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/16/google-ceo-eric-schmidt-s_n_684031.html" target="_hplink">suggested</a> (in what he later said was a joke) that young people ought to be able to change their names when they hit adulthood in order to escape their "permanent record" on the Internet. We can collect data on everything from our sleep habits to our spending, making it harder than ever for us--and the Internet--to forget what we've said, purchased, or done.
The last decade has brought bad news for bookstore-browsing bookworms. The rise of online retailers like Amazon, which offers bargain-basement prices on books and other items, and the increasing popularity of ebooks has put pressure on bookstores and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/bookstore-closings-of-the_n_777646.html" target="_hplink">put many of them out of business.</a> Publishing industry insider Mike Shatzkin predicts, "what brick-and-mortar booksellers will experience in the first six months of 2011 will be the most difficult time they've ever seen" and, as HuffPostBooks wrote <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/bookstore-closings-of-the_n_777646.html" target="_hplink">here</a>, the pace of bookstore closings is increasing.
While wristwatches are certainly still a style statement and/or status symbol for many, they've increasingly been replaced by cellphones, laptops, and other gadgets, which tell time and eliminate the need for an extra accessory. A survey by Beloit College of its class of 2014 <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/17/beloit-college-mindset-li_0_n_684308.html" target="_hplink">found</a>, "Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch."
Phone Sex Via 1-900 Numbers
The porn industry has been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/28/porn-is-tech-worlds-quiet_n_555601.html" target="_hplink">called</a> tech's "quiet pioneer" and indeed the industry is frequently on the forefront when it comes to incorporating and experimenting with new technologies, from 3D TVs to robots. Over the last ten years, the Internet has proved a boon to the porn industry--while also providing a plethora of free XXX content--and even as the web has disrupted the adult industry's business model, it has also opened up new frontiers, such as adult video chats on webcams that provide a more "intimate" experience than 1-900 numbers. There are a number of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/10/how-tech-is-changing-sex_n_585204.html#s92635" target="_hplink">new ways to engage in </a>"cybersex," with sites like CupidCam replacing the phone lines and chat-rooms of yore.
GPS devices keep getting cheaper, smaller, and more portable. We have GPS in our cars and on our phones. We use mobile maps for everything from cross-country trips to tracking down restaurants, and employ services like Google Maps and Mapquest to give us customized routes. Asking for directions, carrying around paper maps, and even getting lost are all increasingly obsolete.
Classifieds In Newspapers
Not only have ad dollars followed audiences online, but the expansion of Craigslist -- from one city, San Francisco, to over 500 -- has sent chills down the spines of newspaper publishers everywhere, thinning newspapers and reducing ad sales.
It's older and slower than the available alternatives, and on its way out. A 2008 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that just 10% of Americans used dial-up Internet. Nostalgic? <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0">Listen</a> to its beeps, fuzz, and hums on <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0">YouTube</a>.
Users have traded Britannicas on the bookshelf for the collaboratively-built, online-only Wikipedia.
CDs, and the stores that sold them, have all but been replaced by digital music that can be downloaded online, one track at a time.
While many still rely on landlines--especially in areas where cellphone service is spotty--users are increasingly unplugging. As the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/22/cell-phone-use-first-more-tha_n_800158.html" target="_hplink">AP</a> explained, a recent survey found, "In a first for any age group, more than half of Americans age 25-29 live in households with cell phones but no traditional landline telephones."
Film (And Film Cameras)
Digital cameras--on phones, point-and-shoots, or computers--are capturing memories, instantly and cheaply, in place of film cameras.
Yellow Pages And Address Books
There was a time when "let your fingers do the walking" meant opening a phone book -- not typing in a search query. Phone books, address books, and the Yellow Pages have been made obsolete, their information transferred from paper onto smartphones, and the web.
Earlier this decade, "spam" came through the mail slot, not into your inbox. Times have changed.
Before, hot. Now? Not.
Wireless internet, wireless updating, wireless downloads, wireless charging, wireless headphones: Although wires are still around (for now!), they're well on their way to being a thing of the past.
Love letters, thank you notes, and invitations have gone being hand-written to typed, and from the mailbox to the inbox. Sending online messages is a bargain next to $.44 stamp.
Text messaging, BlackBerry Messaging, Instant Messaging, Tweeting, Facebook messaging, and emailing have taken over communication and opened up new avenues for getting in touch. The popularity of text messaging is gradually edging out calling (and even talking face to face): The AP <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/21/teens-text-more-than-they_n_545735.html" target="_hplink">wrote</a> in April 2010, "The frequency with which teens text has overtaken every other form of interaction, including instant messaging and talking face-to-face, according to a study released Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and the University of Michigan."