Mr. Chair, I apologize for my enthusiasm. I just could not wait to get started on this wonderful speech that I have for the House. It gives me a chance to offer congratulations on the minister's birthday a second time, so that is a good thing.
As I started out to say, I want to talk about Canada Post but I want to acknowledge at the outset that it is an arm's-length crown corporation.
First, let me deal with the financial situation at Canada Post. It is undeniable that the business of delivering mail has evolved at a remarkable rate, especially with the incredible popularity of electronic mail. But whether we talk about individuals, business, or governments, everybody has to live within their means. This is as true of me and my family as it is of the government or of Canada Post. Canadian families know they cannot continually spend more than they earn. Business and governments are no different. Canada Post will not receive government subsidies to operate in an unprofitable fashion. It must adapt, as we all have to.
That said, the throne speech highlighted our government's unwavering commitment to control spending while investing in Canadians' priorities to safeguard our economy. Year after year in budget after budget, we have put in place credible plans to achieve financial sustainability and set clear targets to bring our deficit down.
This was crucial as we dealt with the damaging effects of a worldwide recession, one of the worst in more than seven decades. We had to get our fiscal house in order to keep Canadians working and our economy growing. The proof of this commitment is in the results. I remind the House that one of minister Flaherty's greatest legacies will be a balanced budget in 2015.
More than just managing debt, our government is tackling spending. We are reducing the size and the cost of government to ensure taxpayers get good value for money. We are working hard to make government more efficient and responsive to the needs of Canadians. This is because of our overreaching goal to create the conditions for jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
We are the envy of the world. Three credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's, have reaffirmed their top ratings for Canada. Both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 this year and next.
Reducing spending, lowering taxes, and paying down debt are enabling us to seize new economic opportunities as we promote free trade and innovation, the keys to job creation, economic growth, and prosperity. I lay out these facts to underline that these same truths apply just as much to Canada Post as it faces unprecedented challenges.
One need not be a learned scholar to judge the trends in the fiscal forecast of Canada Post to see where the trend leads. A 2013 report prepared by The Conference Board of Canada into the corporation's future projects that unless major changes are made, annual operating deficits will reach nearly $1 billion by 2020, that is $1 billion per year. That is certainly a deficit that requires significant and immediate attention.
While many Canadians will admit they use mail less and less, some are quick to point out the popularity of parcel delivery. Could this not be a promising area of business growth, they ask? Absolutely it can. The parcel market is increasing as more and more Canadians are making online purchases. E-commerce helped parcel volumes grow by about two million pieces in the first nine months of 2013 compared to the year earlier. Canada Post parcel revenue was up 11.2%, which amounts to $32 million from the third quarter of 2012. However, I believe the minister could confirm that parcel revenues are simply not enough to compensate for mail volume declines.
Consider that in 2012, total transaction mail revenue amounted to $3 billion or 51% of the corporation's operating revenues. Parcels on the other hand accounted for less than $1.3 billion or 22% of operating revenues. Even though parcel volume is projected to increase by 26% by 2020, it will not be enough to get Canada Post out of the red.
Quite simply, the corporation's current business model no longer allows it to earn sufficient revenues to offset its cost. Without changes, the future viability of the postal service is in question.
As the minister has highlighted in this place many times before, the challenges of Canada Post have arisen in part because of the global recession. The pace of postal decline has been accelerating in Canada and other developed countries for a number of years. However, it has accelerated after the global recession began in 2008.
Companies cut their mailing costs as part of overall cost reductions. Many opted to ship more billing statements and marketing online. At the same time, individual consumers began moving en masse from traditional to digital communications. Canadians are now more likely to send a text message or an email than to take the time to write a letter, post it and wait several days to be delivered.
As the minister has noted many times, mail volumes per address have dropped by nearly 25% between 2008 and 2012. In fact, more than one billion fewer pieces of letter mail were sent last year than in 2006.
The U.S. Postal Service has reduced service hours and the number of employees to address financial pressures, for instance, while the U.K. has privatized and significantly increased stamp prices. Not to mention, neither of these countries presents the same unique challenges that our northern communities presents.
The digital economy is not going away. Canada Post has no option but to find new ways of doing business to keep its operation sustainable. Canada Post must manage its business prudently. It has no choice. It has a mandate to operate on a self-sustaining financial basis. Financial responsibility is a legislated obligation.
The services currently provided by Canada Post are clearly no longer affordable. The corporation needs to spend within its means in the same way that individuals do as they manage their family budgets. More than that, change is essential if Canada Post is to keep pace with the choices Canadians are already making about the way they prefer to communicate.
Since delivery accounts for about 40% of Canada Post's operation costs, it is the most obvious place to start.
Door-to-door delivery is by far the most expensive mode of delivery. It costs between two and three times what it costs to deliver to a community mailbox. Compare $283 annually for home delivery versus $108 for community mailboxes. They are also cheaper than delivering to a rural mailbox, which rings in at $179 per year.
To be clear, we are talking about changes affecting only home delivery. Businesses with large volumes of mail or located in business zones will generally retain their door-to-door delivery. However, the remaining one-third of Canadians still will have door-to-door service. The minority of people in our country, I would add and I am one of them, will gradually shift over the next five years to community mailboxes instead. Community mailboxes provide secure mail storage in a convenient place close to home to receive parcels and packages.
Remember that Canada Post introduced community mailboxes back in 1981, so it has been successfully delivering mail and packages this way for a very long time.
The corporation is expected to reduce its workforce by between 6,000 and 8,000 positions by 2019 and this will be achieved largely through attrition, which will help reduce its overhead dramatically. Like most workplaces populated by baby boomers, many will leave the workforce in a few years' time.
In closing, I have a question that I would like to pose for the minister. I hate to present her with such a tough question, but although it is tough, it is fair. I was hoping that the minister would inform the House on the current crisis facing Canada Post and the government's commitment to ensuring that it does not become a burden on taxpayers, because the taxpayers are up to here with unnecessary costs. Please explain what we can expect the post office to do to rein in these costs?