The Liberal government is hitting pause on plans to reform Canada Post.
In a technical briefing with reporters on Wednesday, government officials said there will be no more conversions of home delivery to community mailboxes and that they will be bringing in new management at Canada Post to try to find new ways of saving money.
The plan to end door-to-door delivery was brought in by the former Conservative government as a way to save about $400 million for the Crown corporation each year, which has been facing a revenue shortfall for years as people mail fewer letters.
What do the changes mean for your mail delivery? Here’s everything you need to know.
Will home delivery be restored?
Those who have already been switched over to the community mailbox service are out of luck and will not see their home delivery restored.
However, those who were scheduled to be switched over, won’t be.
Home delivery will remain in place and all of the conversions that had been scheduled are now cancelled.
While that is likely to disappoint many who had hoped for a return to the old ways, officials said they will be bringing in an assisted mail delivery service for those who cannot reach the community mailboxes already installed because of limited mobility, particularly seniors.
How much will this cost?
Money was at the crux of the decision to cancel home delivery in the first place so the obvious question around the plan to freeze conversions is how much that move will actually cost.
When the decision to end door-to-door delivery was announced, it was billed by the government as a way to save roughly $400 million for the Crown corporation by switching over about five million Canadians to the community mailboxes.
So far, 840,000 have been switched and officials said that has already brought in about $80 million in savings.
Numbers indicate there would have been a further $350 million in savings for Canada Post had the government gone ahead with ending door-to-door delivery for the 4.2 million who had until today been scheduled to have their services converted.
Officials said given the boom in shipping of parcels and the associated profits for the Crown corporation, there is a “window of opportunity” for Canada Post to modernize its business model.
The last quarterly report for Canada Post indicates there was a 41 per cent spike in revenues from parcels, which officials billed as a “dramatic increase” that far exceeded the financial predictions made at the start of 2017.
Changes also announced today mean it will now have to reinvest all of its profits in its own business, which is expected to help make Canada Post more innovative and financially self-sustaining.
Leadership at Canada Post is also looking to partner with other federal agencies to use its existing infrastructure across the country: for example, officials pointed to discussions ongoing with Service Canada as to whether the agency would want to use Canada Post to deliver its services and documents to Canadians.
However, restoring door-to-door delivery for those who have already been switched to community mailboxes would carry a one-time cost of $195 million with ongoing costs close to $95 million, and officials said that would effectively wipe out the profits made from conversions so far along with the boom in parcels.
When asked whether the decision to cancel the planned conversions would carry costs, officials said the community mailboxes are only purchased and installed roughly 10 to 12 months ahead of time and so there will not be a mass of orders that need to be cancelled.
As well, since community mailboxes are still de rigueur in subdivisions being built across the country, any that were purchased for communities slated to have home delivery cancelled can still be used in new communities that are being built, as well as for replacing older models.
The community mailbox program has been around since 1985 even though most Canadians likely only heard of it in 2013.
WATCH: Anger lingers over Canada Post delivery decision. Tom Hayes reports.
How did we get here?
In 2013, former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government went on a cost-cutting spree to try to balance its budget ahead of the 2015 election and decided to end home mail delivery to saved hundreds of millions of dollars.
That led to an outcry from many unwilling to let go of the ease of home delivery and sparked protests by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which argued the move would cost jobs at Canada Post because deliveries at one central community mailbox would require fewer workers than bringing letters door-to-door.
In the 2015 election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to “stop Stephen Harper’s plan to end door-to-door mail delivery in Canada and undertake a new review of Canada Post to make sure that it provides high-quality service at a reasonable price to Canadians, no matter where they live.”
After being elected, the Liberals froze the conversions and launched a review of the decision aimed at finding an alternative to cutting home delivery.
That had originally been scheduled to wrap up last spring.