PAP negotiations extend into 11th hour

Officials at Canada Post and the federal Department of Canadian Heritage are in extended last-minute negotiations over the rates for the Publications Assistance Program. The PAP rate is dependent on increases planned for the Publications Mail product of Canada Post Corporation. The post office has proposed increases in the range of six percent in the first year of a three year rate hike program. Officials at the Department of Heritage are negotiating volume discounts and service elements before announcing the new PAP reference tariff, which currently sits at a base of 9.5 cents.

Ordinarily, officials would have announced the rate increases by the end of January in order to give at least 60 days notice before an April 1, 2002 implementation. Sources suggest that the announcement of the rates may be delayed due to the last minute negotiations. It is not clear whether the April 1 implementation date will also be affected.

Negotiations over the PAP have been ongoing since September of last year but took on a political element when industry associations such as CCNA and the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association objected to Publications Mail rate hikes that would have seen prices increase by over 25 percent over the next three years. A campaign of letter writing and briefing visits ensured that the government ministers responsible took a personal interest in the outcome. The Hon. Sheila Copps is the minister responsible for Canadian Heritage while the Hon. Alfonso Gagliano was the minister responsible for Canada Post before the recent cabinet shuffle. Responsibility for Canada Post now resides with Deputy Prime Minister John Manley.

CCNA is monitoring the situation and will inform members as soon as the parties involved announce their intentions. The association rejected the most recent rate proposals from Canada Post, stressing that increases beyond the Consumer Price Index were unjustified during the current economic climate.