Right before Christmas John Hinds, executive director of the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA), became aware of a situation that has since become a day-to-day focus for CCNA.
“We’re dealing with it everyday,” said Hinds.
Through concerns expressed by CCNA members, CCNA representatives discovered changes coming from Canada Post Corporation (CPC) that were scheduled to start on January 12, 2004. The new rules, such as the amendments regarding inserts into Unaddressed Admail product, seemed poised to add undue burden to the distribution of some member publications.
“We didn’t feel the recommendations were a win-win for everybody,” said CCNA Distribution Committee Chairman Fred Heidman.
Both Heidman and Hinds expressed surprise at the suddenness of the developments. At the beginning of 2003, CCNA and Canada Post had had a positive discussion regarding changes to Publications Mail, which had allowed the two parties to meet prior to any changes.
Once aware of proposed changes to inserts, CCNA contacted Canada Post in December, with the request that they postpone the planned changes until the two sides could meet. “That didn’t work,” said Hinds.
In the first weeks of January, CCNA officials once again contacted Canada Post and a dialogue has since been opened.
“They were in shock that this had such an impact on our members, said Hinds.
In a letter dated January 9 from Heidman, CCNA thanked Canada Post for “taking the time to hear the concerns” of the association. CCNA proposed a number of alternatives for CPC to consider for the Unaddressed Admail program.
(As of this printing talks were ongoing, keep checking www.communitynews.ca for further developments.)
Canada Post’s response to that letter, Hinds felt, showed they understood CCNA’s concerns. “That, to me, was indeed a sign that they were taking us seriously,” said Hinds.
On January 16, Heidman, Hinds and CCNA Managing Director Tina Ongkeko traveled to Ottawa to meet with Jos├®e Bergeron, director of Unaddressed Admail and Publications MailTM. Since that meeting, Hinds has been complimentary of the “ongoing exchange of ideas” on how to best respond to the concerns of CCNA members . In addition, communications surrounding changes to the Publications Assistance Program and Publications MailTM have also taken place.
“As far as I am concerned the talks we have had with Ms. Bergeron have been very positive,”said Heidman. “She understands where we’re coming from and how we want to work with them.”
Hinds credits Canada Post for not strictly enforcing many of the new amendments for publishers. With talks ongoing, he said the changes presented CCNA with a “huge issue.” The two sides have been steadily exchanging e-mails, letters and telephone conversations to reach a compromise.
“There are easy solutions like bags, wrappings and stickers. But there are other solutions that are tougher,” said Hinds. “Hopefully, we find workable solutions so our members can continue delivering their papers and inserts.”