Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 15/13
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
The days of door-to-door mail delivery in urban areas across Canada are about to end.
And, the declining number of people still using the mail will see substantial increases in domestic stamp prices – to 85 cents from 63 cents if bought in a booklet and to $1 individually – starting March 31.
It’s part of a plan by Canada Post to cut its operating costs by up to $900 million a year based on the reality that fewer people use the service in these days of e-mail, courier deliveries and bills received and paid online.
As well, the “average Canadian household” now buys fewer than two stamps a month.
Thirty years ago, the post office began installing group mail boxes in newly built subdivisions and that will be implemented in all city areas over the next five years, said spokesman Jon Hamilton.
Canada Post said up to 8,000 jobs would be eliminated while nearly 15,000 employees will retire or leave the government agency within that time.
This will be a hardship for seniors with mobility issues who still want five-day-a-week home delivery of their mail, said Susan Eng of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.
“In cases where there are mobility issues, we will ensure a box can be accessed that isn't too high and we will provide additional keys (for caregivers to pick up the mail),” Hamilton said.
(For more Canadian news of the week, click on "Read more")
As the holiday season approaches, things are not so jolly for thousands of Canadian workers.
Soon after the Bank of Montreal said it has reduced its Canadian workforce by nearly 1,000 positions to cut costs and improve efficiency, there have been numerous other job losses.
Kellogg Company said it will close its cereal plant that employs more than 500 people in London, Ontario and Heinz is shutting its ketchup plant in Leamington, Ontario, eliminating 740 full-time jobs.
National Steel Car is temporarily laying off 400 workers, about one-fifth of its workforce, in Hamilton, Ontario the week before Christmas.
Sears Canada announced earlier it is laying off another 800 employees in the latest round of major cuts and the closing of several of its largest stores.
News in brief:
- Household debt that has hit an all-time high is a major risk to the Canadian economy, says Stephen Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada. The risks need to be managed even as the “growth in household borrowing has moderated and residential investment is on a more sustainable track,” he said. Latest figures show only a very small rise in debt in the third quarter of the year, suggesting Canadians are reaching their limit on borrowing.
- The Canadian government will begin to phase out the sale of old-style incandescent light bulbs beginning on Jan. 1 as it introduces new standards for energy efficiency. Instead, consumers will be encouraged to replace their old bulbs with more expensive but longer-lasting compact fluorescent lamps.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar has advanced to 94.32 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar is valued at $1.0602 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s trendsetting interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate remains at 3 percent.
Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,118 points and the TSX Venture index 888 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Dec. 11) 4, 15, 28, 31, 37 and 44; bonus 35. (Dec. 7) 2, 8, 11, 15, 24 and 27; bonus 44. Lotto Max: (Dec. 6) 3, 4, 11, 18, 37, 42 and 44; bonus 47.
- The Alberta government is concerned that a $7.9-billion hydroelectric dam proposed for northeastern British Columbia could cause serious environmental impacts. In a submission to review hearings, the government said the dam could increase mercury levels in fish and escalate the risk of floods or drought along the Peace River. It would flood a 50-mile stretch of the river from Fort St. John to near Hudson's Hope.
- The Ontario Lottery and Gaming wants to build a new entertainment center to more than triple the size of its casino operations in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Proposed is a 5,000-seat “privately funded multipurpose entertainment center” to be larger than those at the province’s Casino Rama and Casino Windsor.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com