Mr. Speaker, I raised a question a while back with regard to the cutting of postal services with respect to a part of my riding called Honeymoon Bay. In Honeymoon Bay, what has been a traditional service is that on Saturday mornings the post office is open so that residents, who mostly work outside of the community, have an opportunity to visit their local post office.
When I raised the question, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport responded by saying that it was up to the Crown corporation that makes the operational decisions. However, the minister of transport does have some overall responsibility for the principles with respect to the kind of service Canadians can expect.
I want to give members an example of some of the correspondence I have received. I received many letters and emails on this particular matter.
With regard to the closure of the post office on Saturday mornings, one resident wrote:
This idea is stupid. Period.
One cannot say it any more clearly than that. She continues:
Saturdays is the only day for most business folks to pick up the mail here in rural B.C. Most of the time that is the case for me. What is next? Close Mondays, Saturdays, and Tuesdays? Need the example go on?
She went on to write about a number of other issues in the email.
The point is that Honeymoon Bay is a really good example of a community where the forestry sector has been really hard hit. In fact, one of the mills closed down a number of years ago, taking a significant number of good jobs out of a place called Youbou. Many of the residents of Honeymoon Bay worked in Youbou. People are now having to drive 40 to 50 kilometres out of their community to work. Often they are leaving early in the morning and are coming home late at night, so Saturday morning was an opportunity for them to actually go to the post office and do whatever they needed to do.
We wrote a letter to the minister, and in that letter we indicated:
A number of our constituents have voiced opposition to the plan to remove the customer service hours on Saturday and consequently reduce the postal service to the community. For some people Saturday is the only day they have available to do postal business. This is especially true for the Honeymoon Bay Post office that is open until 3:00 p.m. only on weekdays. Cuts to Canada Post weaken the ability of Canadians to receive quality public service.
When the government cuts the working hours of the country's rural posts offices it harms the people and the local businesses that deal with Canada Post, thus hurting the regional economy. As my colleague [the member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges] mentioned “The post office in rural communities is an institution. It is something that links the community together. We can talk about modernization schemes, but the fact remains that people in rural communities love their post offices."
Canada Post has a charter. One of the elements in the charter has to do specifically with closures. When there is a serious change in services, one would think Canada Post would actually go out and consult with the community.
Therefore, my question to the parliamentary secretary is whether, in this case, Canada Post consulted with the community members and businesses in Honeymoon Bay.