In an effort to save an estimated $15 million, Canada Post has begun looking at ways to reduce costs and increase revenue for Publications Mail.
Representatives from the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) and Canada Post met in February to discuss changes to Publications Mail, which may include surcharges for wrongly labeled mail.
In February, 2002, Canada Post announced a three-year plan for the Publications Mail program. The third year of the plan, beginning Jan. 12, 2004, was predicated on successful cost-cutting measures. Canada Post set up a steering committee in 2002, which included representatives from the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association and the Canadian Business Press to discuss changes to Publications Mail.
In the February meeting, discussion among Canada Post and CCNA representatives focused on a variety of areas, including mail presortation and distribution changes, changes in Publications Mail product specifications, mail quality improvement and increased use of electronic processing.
Canada Post is looking to reduce the number of residue pieces of mail handled by adding a regional forward consolidation point. Canada Post believes this would decrease the number of containers handled at originating postal plants and move mail downstream faster while increasing the number of direct shipments to major centres and bypass operating plants.
Canada Post is looking at introducing a minimum volume requirement for Publications Mail and clearer identifying information, which could include more prominent return address information and/or more clearly displayed agreement numbers.
Identifying common mail problems that cause extra handling would allow Canada Post to add surcharges to cover costs and discourage improperly labeled Publications Mail.
Increased Electronic Processing
Canada Post is looking at increasing the use of electronic processing in order to reduce processing costs, which would include electronic ordering through Canada PostÔÇÖs Electronic Shipping Tools (including E-som), pre-authorized payment for all account transactions and electronic return of undeliverable address information.
While some problems remain (i.e. Publications Assistance Program users will not be able to take advantage of pre-authorized payments using their credit cards), in September, 2003, pre-authorized payments and Electronic Shipping Tools will become requirements in order to access Publications Mail rates.
Canada Post representatives said that they hope to consult other stakeholders in March, 2003 (including another meeting with CCNA on Mar. 18), announce the proposed changes to Publications Mail by July, 2003, and fully implement those changes by the end of the year.
You can find out the latest information on postal issues and how they effect the Canadian community newspaper industry at www.communitynews.ca/postal .