That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately take the required measures to privatize all operations and services of the Canada Post Corporation.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for seconding the motion.
My speech will be about 10 minutes long to allow my colleagues to also speak to private members' motion 312. I preface my remarks by stating that Canadians need and deserve an efficient postal service.
The Reform Party supports placing the ownership and control of corporations in the sector that can perform their function most cost effectively, with greatest accountability to owners and the least likelihood of incurring public debt. We believe there is overwhelming evidence that this would be the private sector in the vast majority of cases.
As far as Canada Post Corporation is concerned, the Reform Party supports free competition for the post office. There should be no restrictions on private competition in the delivery of mail, which brings me to my private members' motion. It calls for the government to take measures to privatize the operations and services of the Canada Post Corporation.
There are at least two essential considerations. First, is there any reason at all to involve government in mail delivery? Should it be completely privatized or totally deregulated? Second, if there is reason for government involvement in mail services, is the current system the best and the right way to do it?
As far as the first consideration is concerned, if our goal is simply to maximize efficiency, there is no role for government operations or subsidies here or anywhere else. If people who live in remote places find that mail is hard to send or hard to get, that is a consequence of their home being somewhere remote. If they do not like it, they should move closer to a city or area where mail service is better. Of course, I am not advocating that option.
It is normally argued that the purpose of a national mail service is to contribute to national unity by allowing everyone from sea to sea to sea to send and receive letters at a reasonable price. If this is true, there has to be some sort of government role.
The bulk of the mail is between businesses and their customers, in and around large towns and cities where deliveries can be made cheaply because the volume is so high. In a truly private world, the more remote you are the more your mail will cost. It is true that people in remote places generally are among the less wealthy and less able to afford high postal rates.
Most people, except possibly a few federal cabinet ministers, understand that free citizens do things better, cheaper and more nicely than government. Therefore we should assume that government should not become involved in any particular area and put the burden of proof on those who say it should stay involved and to explain why.
In the case of mail delivery the reason for involving government is to make sure that all Canadians from coast to coast to coast have access to mail in the interests of the national community and national unity. It is not because people think the government would do a good job of delivering the mail, even by the normal standards of bureaucracy.
However, people who think the government should ensure that everyone can get and send mail cheaply should still not want a postal monopoly. The right way to manage the mail would be to promise that anyone, anywhere can mail a letter for a certain rate, say 45 cents. The entire field of delivery would then be thrown wide open and deregulated totally, except that the government would pay for but contract out the job of making mail deliveries at 45 cents per letter to places like Inuvik, that private carriers just could not and would not service cheaply.
This would be paid for out of general revenues. Since the goal of promoting national unity is one that benefits all Canadians equally, it makes sense to ask them all to pay for it. The argument will be
made that the government would lose money on this even if it is compared with the present system. What the present system does is penalize all users of mail and all potential mail delivery servers quite heavily. It allows every Canadian to get mail, but imposes the cost disproportionately on one group and in the process damages to the Canadian economy. I suggest the damage to the Canadian economy at the hands of Canada Post is not small.
CPC is a perennial money loser, having lost money in three of the last five years, ending its most recent fiscal year with a $68.8 million loss. That amount is only a fraction of the cost to the Canadian economy by the mail monopoly. Slow delivery, private opportunities denied and lost, excessive charges for mail in big towns and cities that could be delivered for less than 45 cents and burdensome bureaucracies are some of the inefficiencies.
The real cost of Canada Post is higher than its on-book losses. Here are a few losses to consider; the $68.8 million loss which I just mentioned for 1993-94. It was $22 million higher than the company executives predicted just a year before. Some prediction and, I suppose, some executives. The books also showed a $270 million deficit even though last year CPC showed a profit in its first class mail delivery; a $282 million entry attributed to internal restructuring of some kind. That is more than five times higher than the previous year's entry. No explanation was given for what type of restructuring.
Here is another interesting phenomenon: 41.7 per cent of CPC'S volume of delivered mail is in the form of unaddressed advertising, or as Canadians so affectionately refer to it, junk mail. Here is the kicker. Junk mail generates only 5.2 per cent of CPC's total revenues, which means that nearly half of CPC's volume produces a paltry 5.2 per cent of its revenues.
To the viewers watching, I hope they are sitting down for this. It is illegal for private mail carriers to charge less than $1.29 a piece for the delivery of first class mail, which is nearly three times as high as the already exorbitant price of 45 cents a stamp charged by CPC. It is a monopoly and it is still losing money.
The government is planning to review the operations of CPC. That is really what our country needs, and the people are just dying for it, another study by this do nothing government. CPC should be privatized using the contracting out model of reform on the least subsidy basis; that is, ask for bids to deliver the mail, charge customers 45 cents and take the bid from the company that delivers to remote places as efficiently as possible. The extra cost would be taken out of general revenues as I stated earlier.
One thing is certain. CPC is pricing itself out of the business of delivering mail, especially with more and more businesses turning
to faxes and E-mail. CPC is a top down, inefficient monopoly that has no place in the emerging global economy. I urge the government to take action to allow private carriers the opportunity to be involved in mail delivery. Not only would it help to fix our ailing economy, but the Canadian people would be much better served.