Concern and opposition is mounting in the wake of the announcement of proposed massive rate increases to Publications Mail over the next three years. CCNA, along with the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association and the Canadian Business Press, have all written urgent letters to senior Canada Post and government officials protesting the introduction of those rates given the current economic climate.
Even officials within the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, sponsors of the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), have raised concerns about the impact of the proposed rates on that postal subsidy scheme.
Confirmation of the proposed increases comes at an awkward time in Ottawa. The Canada Post Corporation board is set to ratify the increases before Christmas. Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament are wrapping up the current parliamentary session and preparing for the extended Christmas break. The rates, once ratified, will be announced to the industry no later than 60 days prior to the April 1, 2002 implementation date; roughly the end of January.
CCNA and other industry groups have already sent letters to Andr├® Oullet, President and CEO of Canada Post Corporation as well as to the Hon. Alfonso Gagliano, minister responsible for Canada Post, and the Hon. Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Letters will follow to selected members of the Liberal caucus.
CCNA is urging its members to write letters to these individuals as well as to their local MPs. Addresses for the cabinet ministers are included with this bulletin and can be found on the association web site at www.communitynews.ca/postal/letters.pdf. Copies of CCNA’s letters are available on the web site as well and can serve as a model for your own letters.
Canada Post has not released its proposed Publications Mail rate card in written form. THERE IS NO DOCUMENT AVAILABLE TO SHARE TO MPs.
The following are the key points to communicate. In addition, cite any local experiences you may have that will lend weight to your concerns. Mention the downturn in the economy and local problems with industry, retail, employment, etc. Describe the difficulty of dealing with the last round of rate hikes and the possible effects on your paper of the proposed increases.
Over the next three years, base rates for Local Rural service will increase by 22% to 22 cents from the current 18 cents. Regional rates increase by 22% to 33 cents from the current 27 cents. National rates increase by 20% to 54 cents from 45 cents.
Using 1999 as the base year, the cost of mailing a 75 gram newspaper at Local Rural rates will have increased by 100% at the beginning of 2004. The same 75 gram newspaper mailed at Regional rates will have increased by 73.7%. For a 150 gram newspaper the increases are 121% for Local Rural and 76% for Regional services over the same period.
Canada Post Corporation did not undertake any negotiations or meaningful consultations on these proposed increases and it won’t promise that future rate increases will fall into line with economic indicators such as the Consumer Price Index.
CCNA has asked that Publications Mail rate increases be held at no more than the prevailing Consumer Price Index. First Class Postage is increased annually using a formula based on the CPI. We are asking that other Canada Post products and services be held to the same cost and revenue containment discipline.
According to officials at the Department of Canadian Heritage, the proposed increases will put the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) into a deficit position and will lead to even larger increases in the PAP base rate. The PAP program will not protect newspapers and magazines from the proposed increases.
Some or all of these points should be communicated to the people you write to. Even th