Perfect, thank you so much.
Good morning, co-chairs, ladies and gentlemen, and honourable members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. Thank you for the opportunity to speak as a witness on the topic of Canada Post, an issue of significant concern for small and medium-sized businesses across the country, including many members of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber serves as the voice of business on economic issues in the greater Charlottetown area. It provides services and opportunities for, and advocates in support of, its members to enhance their abilities to do business. Our jurisdiction is the greater Charlottetown area, which includes Stratford, Cornwall, and Charlottetown itself. We have close to 1,000 members, and the chamber reflects a diverse network of industry sectors and business professions.
We have taken the opportunity to review the discussion paper that was prepared by your independent task force. In response we'd like to present some of our initial observations, outlines, and some guiding principles the chamber feels are necessary to consider as Canada Post operations and services are reviewed and adjusted to adapt to the digital age.
There is no question that this committee faces a formidable task in evaluating the future of the Canada Post Corporation, particularly in balancing its mandate to operate in a financially self-sustaining manner with a commitment to providing quality postal services that meet Canadians' needs. Initial observations by the chamber, particularly in the review by our policy committee, are that transition and adaptation by Canada Post Corporation are inevitable. It is clear from the task force review that current operations are unsustainable, and the organization will only face increased challenges as the digital world evolves. We fully accept that Canada Post must explore alternative options to continue to increase potential revenues and substantially increase their savings.
At the same time, we made note of the review's assertion that businesses make up the largest portion of the users of Canada Post's services. Businesses represent the corporation's largest source of revenue, and we believe the significance of the facts cannot be underestimated. As the largest users of the service, the needs of businesses must be given an appropriate level of consideration.
As the committee moves forward with its review, the chamber and particularly our policy committee would like to strongly suggest some guiding principles on behalf of the business communities here in the greater capital region.
The chamber recommends that the committee continue to consider the importance of public postal service to Canadians, and particularly to small business, and that the committee make decisions regarding the future of Canada Post that are based on sound fiscal management.
It's well known that many small businesses continue to rely on the postal service for essential activities, such as invoicing and receipt of payment. Many of these businesses straddle a fine line between profit and loss, and in these uncertain economic times they are vulnerable to even small increases in their cost of doing business. These same businesses are the lifeblood of our Canadian economy and individual communities, and every increase in costs for them spells decreased profits, delayed hiring, and lost jobs for the rest of the economy. For this reason, rate increases by Canada Post should be considered extremely carefully, if at all.
It was notable in the task force's review that the majority of Canadian businesses expressed a favourable view of peer pricing. We do believe it would be worthwhile for the committee to examine the feedback further. Meanwhile, we know that the task force's discussion paper was considering changes to Canada Post. Businesses also place a high value on speed of delivery, reliability, and customer service.
As for the second principle that was noted, the chamber would like to emphasize the importance of building a future for Canada Post on the foundations of sound fiscal management. We recognize that in the short term some subsidization may be necessary during the adaptation process for the corporation to continue to provide the services Canadians and businesses expect and require. On behalf of business, the chamber urges Canada Post to continue to seek out ways to increase efficiencies and cope with increasing delivery costs. It is clear that over the long term, substantial streamlining of operations will be necessary if the corporation is to remain in existence. If it is to be truly self-sustaining, then Canada Post faces a major transition.
We appreciate the committee's efforts to consult Canadians thus far, and it's our hope that with the collective wisdom of Canadians and the business community, innovative solutions will be devised that maintain the essential integrity of this important public service while providing the flexibility to adapt to a changing era of communications.
Thank you again for this opportunity to provide comments on behalf of the business community, and I look forward to any questions you might have.