Like postal services around the world, Canada Post has seen a rapid decline in first-class mail. It tried to adjust by cutting wages, prompting a strike that's lasted three weeks so far.
Andrew Vaughn/The Canadian Press/AP
When Canadian letter carriers went on strike three weeks ago they hoped to force the national postal service, Canada Post, to back down from a cost-cutting proposal to dramatically reduce wages.
Three weeks later, lawmakers are preparing to legislate them back to work, but Canadians are asking just how much a modern cyber-connected society needs the post office anyway.
“If I get my mail, I get my mail, but if I really have to do something I go on the Internet,” says Janina, a bank teller.
True, some businesses say they have had to scramble to try to fill orders and receive payments that would usually be sent by mail, and some charities say they are missing out on donations. But observers say that by going on strike, postal workers have likely sealed their own fate by proving it's possible to function without daily mail delivery.
“Many find mail in paper form to be quaint; it no longer plays a central role in society,” an editorial in The Globe and Mail daily newspaper concluded. “The strike will only accelerate that trend by making online converts of those who have hitherto been reluctant.”
A worldwide trend toward e-mail, online banking, electronic bill payments, and communication through social media is causing a dramatic drop in revenue for the postal services around the world.