Canada Post is in the middle of a cross-country consultation on postal services in the country, but members of the public who wish to speak cannot just show up and expect to offer their opinion.

The consultations, including the one that took place Thursday in downtown Montreal, are invitation-only with would-be speakers asked to submit their comments in advance -- via Canada Post's website.

"The meetings we're having in Montreal are one of a total of about 50 meetings that we're going to be having across the country," said Jon Hamilton of Canada Post.

In the past year Canada Post has already eliminated several freestanding offices in the Montreal area, including those in Westmount, NDG, Snowdon, and others in the West Island, and instead directs people needing mail services to postal counters inside other companies, often drugstores.

Canada Post says it faces a fundamental problem: the volume of regular mail has been declining for years, which means the company is not making as much money.

"We have to make changes to the way we do business so we can evolve with the way Canadians do business," said Hamilton.

After decades of profitability Canada Post is projecting a $1 billion deficit by 2020 unless it takes drastic measures which include:

  • significantly increasing prices
  • closing more post-offices
  • limiting delivery to a few days a week
  • eliminating door-to-door service

The Conference Board of Canada wrote the report analyzing Canada Post's future, but David Stewart-Patterson says that closing offices may not be the best solution.

He argues that post offices should remain open, if not for the general public, then certainly for operators of small and medium-sized businesses.

"We definitely found that small businesses rely on postal services more than homeowners do, more than large business do," said Stewart-Patterson.

The union which represents postal workers believes there are other alternatives.

"Canada Post should look at offering new services such as banking or financial services, especially in regions," said Alain Duguay of the CUPW.

The union is encouraging the public to write in -- on the Canada Post website -- to save post offices.