Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about the importance of rural postal delivery and the fact that we need to support it. It is not cost effective in some areas because it costs a lot to go to some places.
I am talking about the northern communities in particular, starting in my riding. We have a very big capital city of 23,000 or so people where delivery service is easy. It is very efficient and cost effective for any corporation. Canada Post provides good service and does that economically.
Then we have a number of very small communities. One, Old Crow, where the mail has to go on the plane because there are no roads. There are other communities that can be a four, five or six hour drive, such as Beaver Creek, Watson Lake, Mayo and Teslin, Pelly Crossing, and Keno. Some communities have very few citizens, a few dozen citizens, and it is very expensive to deliver mail to such communities for the few letters that are mailed at 54¢ a letter, the cost for delivery in Canada. We all want Canada Post to be self-sustaining and to at least break even. It needs to have revenues to deliver to those small communities.
In the Northwest Territories, the situation is even more costly. Large cities like Yellowknife and Inuvik have highway access, but there are many cities that only have air access. Mailing letters to places with only air access is very expensive. Those communities without roads in the Northwest Territories are tremendously costly for Canada Post. Canada Post needs to have support from revenue somehow. Some of that comes from the exclusive privilege.
Nunavut has virtually no roads at all. Everything has to be flown in to all the communities, even to the large capital city and all the small communities. It is very expensive. Flights are extremely expensive because it is so far north, so isolated, so hard to get to and such difficult climate conditions. Yet, these communities have a right to receive mail like anyone else in Canada.
Once again, it is a very costly exercise, but for the same amount of 54¢, they have the right to receive mail from anyone in Canada and it needs to be covered. The exclusive privilege is very useful in helping Canada Post. It is one mechanism that can be used to ensure that it can provide reasonable rates to all Canadians for mail to their communities.
Mail is delivered to rural areas in Canada, to farms. In the Prairies there are some communities which have several dozen people and in the past were actually incorporated as a municipality. They need delivery. Rural post offices are very important places in Canada and we have fought to keep those open.
Time and time again, as the previous speaker said, we have a proud record in fighting for those rural post offices so that people in small communities have access, not simply for mailing a letter but to other services that Canada Post offers. In some small communities those other services could be delivered by no one else. There are no banks or other types of organizations in these very small communities. Canada Post can provide some services, and once again, this is not always a money-making opportunity for Canada Post. It has to have sufficient revenues to fund these services.
Another service is the delivery to the farms and the postal boxes that are on the highways. In particular, there have been some concerns in the last few years about the safety of the setup of the postal boxes and how those deliveries are made. In our belief, the answer is not necessarily to eliminate delivery to farms and rural people, but to improve access to where that mail person has to stop and make that delivery. Once again, these are expenses that could be incurred by Canada Post and it needs the revenues to pay for these expenses. One can see why this is important.
In some cases, a larger pull off the side of the road is needed. There could be a slot at the bottom of a hill so the postal car would not be stopping on the highway. However, we also do not Canada Post to cancel the service to that particular post office. If elderly people have been going to the end of their driveway for years to get their mail and then all of a sudden they are told that they are going to have to go out onto the highway and down the highway somewhere else to get that mail, one can imagine the potential for very serious accidents.
Elderly people could pull out on a very busy highway, especially in the winter. They may not see an oncoming car as clearly as they thought. The oncoming car, which could normally stop quickly, may not on an icy road. Once again, these provisions to ensure that the mail person is safe and that the farmer and the people living in these rural communities are also safe all cost money. Canada Post needs the type of revenue to ensure that these people are covered.
We now have a number of areas that are saving some money by having super-boxes. Mail is put into one location where everyone can go. It saves on door-to-door delivery. It is practical, but there are still a large number of stops in very rural areas. It costs a fair amount to deliver these many 54¢ letters. Canada Post receives some more revenue for larger letters, but of course they are heavy to carry.
It is a tenet of our Constitution that Canadians have the ability to receive services comparable to all Canadians no matter where they live. Certainly, mail is one of those types of services that all Canadians should have the right to access. It is a great binder of our nation and makes us all feel part of a country where we can all live in a great modern society and have those types of services that everyone should have access to.