International News: Canada Post Union pitches postal banks in arbitration talks

During the current arbitration talks at Canada Post, which have followed last year’s rotating strikes, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has pitched a proposal that Canada Post create a Postal Bank. Another demand is a proposal to convert their vehicle fleet from gas to electric powered. By including these key public benefits in their agreement negotiations, the Union breaks new ground as advocates. 

Chris Arsenault reports for the CBC:

“The proposed postal bank is aimed at rural residents, including First Nations, who often don't have easy access to a bank branch, said John Anderson, researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. … It would also benefit low-income Canadians, including pensioners and the working poor who often depend on payday lenders for loans, cheque cashing and other financial services. …

“‘The federal government — through its ownership of Canada Post —  is the only body that could bring modern financial services to every community in Canada,’ Anderson said.”

The union’s demands follow a report done last year describing that many communities in Canada now have no banks or credit unions at all.

“This report underscores what we have been advocating for years,” says Mike Palecek, National President, CUPW in a press release. “The big banks are abandoning our communities. Canadians deserve accessible financial services and the post office is more than ready and capable of providing them.”

As of 2014, 45 percent of small towns and rural communities with a post office did not have any bank or credit union. British Columbia and Nova Scotia had rates above 60 percent, and Newfoundland above 80 percent.

Canada Post has had 100 years of banking experience. Postal banking in Canada was introduced in 1868 and lasted until 1968. The legislation that enabled postal banking is still on the books.

Arsenault at the CBC continues:

“Popular in France, the U.K., Italy and other countries, postal banking in Canada would almost certainly be profitable, he said, citing a 2016 survey that suggested three million Canadians and about one-third of businesses would use financial services from the post office. …

“Canada's federal pension plan even invested in China's postal bank, he said, indicating that such plans are financially viable.”

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