Post Office Back To 1868?

Canada Post should revive its 19th century banking business as a means to bolster revenues, says an Ottawa think-tank.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives proposed the post office provide consumer financial services at its 6,500 retail outlets nationwide.

“The only two major countries that do not have postal banking services are Canada and the United States,” said researcher John Anderson, author of the study Why Canada Needs Postal Banking.

Canada Post declined Blacklock’s interview request.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers earlier proposed the corporation diversify its operations to include retail banking, similar to services provided by Swiss Post, Deutsche Postbank, Poste Italiane, Japan Post Bank, the Postal Savings Bank of China, and New Zealand’s Kiwibank.

Anderson noted Postal Savings Banks were a Confederation-era fixture of rural Canada from 1868 to 1968, when the post office disbanded the system.

“We had postal financial services for a hundred years,” said Anderson; “It’s something just about every other country has.”

The Centre for Policy Alternatives proposed that postal outlets issue low-cost credit and debit services and basic chequing accounts and savings deposits, particularly in rural areas with limited access to retail banking.

The study calculated 334 chartered bank branches have closed nationwide in the past decade, with only four provinces – Newfoundland & Labrador, Ontario, Québec and Alberta – seeing a net gain in branch networks since 2010.

“There is this idea that Canada Post has to concentrate on its core business – that we are only here to collect and deliver mail,” said Denis Lemelin, president of CUPW.  “This is the idea that killed the postal banks in the 1960s.”

Canada Post has eliminated 4,750 jobs since 2006 through attrition amid declines in letter volumes.

By Kaven Baker-Voakes

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