My experience of Susan Dixon is that she represents how many other people feel about the planned service cuts announced by Canada Post (CP) recently.
I first heard of Susan through an email invite asking me to sign a petition at change.org. And then I noticed that the person who started that petition was from Cambridge, Canada.
Susan started her petition with a question: “Has anyone at Canada Post tried to push a stroller or a wheelchair or a walker through the snow?” The very next day there I was dashing through the snow towards Susan’s home, which was not far from where I live in Cambridge.
Susan has two boys, Matthew and Nathan. Her youngest Matthew, age 6, has Cerebral Palsy. He is scheduled for surgery on both hips early next year and will be in full-leg casts during the six to eight week recovery period after that.
It is one of those things that keeps her awake at night. Currently Susan is on UI, and is anxious about what life will be like when the cheques stop coming and she has not yet found a job.
While we were talking, the lady that delivers her mail knocks on the door and she invites her in. I said, “We were just talking about you. About Canada Post.” and then I offered to take a picture of them together.
Susan remembers how back in Scotland her grandfather was a letter-mail carrier as well. At the time of this writing, more than 80,000 people have supported her petition at change.org. When I asked her how this makes her feel, she said it warmed her heart knowing that “there are people out there who understand”.
One of the things change.org asks people as they sign the petition is “Why is this important to you?” . What speaks to many is that if this change goes through, the hardest hit will be the elderly and those with physical disabilities. What to some people is “ a bit of an inconvenience” is for the elderly and those with disability a major concern, especially if the mailbox was several blocks down the road and “the weather outside is frightening” (like -30C in some parts of Canada).
Like any issue, people choose which sides they want to be on. There is a side that says that this change absolutely needs to happen, and another that says there is no way this should be allowed to happen.
We are reminded that we live in difficult times and this is part of the changes we have to learn to expect. CP like any corporation needs to find ways to adjust to new economic realities. It is not the only company and Canada is not the only country with this problem.
Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Postal Workers Union (CPWU) offers some options for how CP can leverage its current network to its advantage. Among his suggestions is the possibility of CP going into banking, insurance and bill payment services.
The UK, France, Italy and Switzerland are examples of countries where these initiatives have been tried. Another possibility offered is to reduce the frequency of service delivery to no more than three days a week.
Other less popular options include privatization and deregulation which would open mail delivery to competition among private service providers.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the months ahead. Will resistance to CP’s decision increase in the new year? Will the voices of the people matter or will their concerns fall on deaf ears?
If it does, it can be disheartening for people like Susan Dixon and others like her who are speaking out for the marginalized and the excluded.
How can I tell Susan that what she considers to be an insensitive breach of the people’s trust by a Crown Corporation (which we the people own) is actually the neo-liberal model of economic growth that the current conservative government is beholden to?
That the taking away of 8,000 jobs which will hurt more people than those laid of is considered to be smart business strategy. As is the timing of this CP announcement just prior to the Christmas rush rather than waiting for the review of the Postal Charter in 2014.
It will take much more than online petitions to fight this. It will require a collective action that includes citizens, community organizations, labor unions and other stakeholders to galvanize public opinion against this decision.
In the meantime, Susan is helping her son put some warm socks on, and will have to navigate his stroller across the rising snowbank in front of her home so together they can do their errands for the day.
Tags: Canada Post, Cerebral Palsy, CP, Crown Corporation, Currently Susan, Denis Lemelin, home, Italy, new, Postal Charter, Scotland, Susan Dixon, Switzerland, UI