Blogs & Comment

Postal strike worries marketers

The rotating strikes at Canada Post are taking their toll on direct-mail marketers.

(The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)

Since last Thursday when postal workers started walking off the job, Canadians have begun to be subjected to a reduction in mail delivery service as their Union and management work to hammer out a collective agreement.

The rotating strikes have already begun to take their toll on Canadian businesses, and today the Canadian Marketing Association weighed in on the discussion, voicing their concern that the strike is having on organizations that rely heavily on mail delivery. Direct mail marketers, charities, and other businesses depending on efficient mail delivery by Canada Post to exchange information and funds are taking a major hit by the labour disruption.

John Gustavson, President and CEO of the Canadian Marketing Association, says these organizations that stand to lose handily with each passing day in the strike.

“A lot of people think it’s (Canada Post) not very important. Yes it’s in decline, because we have alternatives, but it’s still a major player in this economy,” he says, adding that Canada Post delivers 11 billion pieces of mail annually. Gustavson claims the direct mail industry generates $26 billion in sales and provides employment for 170,000 Canadians.

He believes the strike will have a lasting impact on the reputation of Canada Post. With Canadians embracing alternative forms of bill payment services with increasing frequency, such as online and telephone banking, the nation’s mail carrier is already facing a direct threat to its business channels. Add in the current labour woes, which provides incentives for individuals to finally make the leap into digital banking, and Canada Post begins losing customers indefinitely. “Once people find out how easy it is to set up, Canada Post will have lost the business forever,” says Gustavson. Businesses will also overcome their “inertia”, he says, and begin to look at alternative mediums to get their messages out, such as the telephone and newspapers.

“The government feels that it does have an obligation to fulfill the traditional role of mail delivery,” he says, noting the Crown corporation doesn’t receive a penny in taxpayer money. “We expect Canada Post to provide an efficient service at a reasonable cost. If they can’t, we’ll take our business elsewhere.”

Gustavson says his organization isn’t taking sides, and they would just like to see a swift resolution. With a prolonged disruption in mail service, he fears businesses will be forced to lay off workers.

“Let’s hope it’s not a long strike,” he says.