While a growing number of people are downloading CNIB library services, Rafferty says 90 per cent of CNIB library users still rely on the mail to get their recordings.
Another group that relies on the mail: brides, who spend hours choosing and addressing invitations for their big day. Some worried women reportedly hustled to get their invitations out early when word of a possible postal strike emerged.
“Most people still need the mail for sure,” says Rita Yoon, who owns Stephita Wedding Invitations in Markham, Ont. “Ninety per cent — they do mail their invitations.”
From a business standpoint, Yoon also depends on the mail to get paid.
“We get a lot of cheques,” she says, noting, however, that her business has also just opened up other methods of payment, including direct bank deposit.
Even in the world of direct deposit and online business, though, there is still often that connection to the postal service.
Small and medium-sized businesses depend on Canada Post to keep payments flowing and to deliver goods, says Losier.
“Canada Post is still a very essential service when you look at it from a small-business perspective,” she said. “Everybody assumes everybody is online, but not everybody is.”
According to eBay, a Canadian sells an item approximately every 2.2 seconds through the online auction house.
The majority of those purchases are delivered to the buyer through Canada Post, says Kevin Wolfley, community relations manager for eBay Canada.
“Shipping is a central issue for doing business on eBay,” he said. Other options
But there are options other than Canada Post, and Wolfley expects eBay’s Canadian market will continue to function in the face of any postal disruption.
Canada Post recognizes it’s in a “competitive market” for parcel delivery, says Losier, and needs to improve its tracking methods and equipment.
But the company is well poised for moving forward, she says.
“Canada Post is the only delivery company that delivers to every single household in the country.”
For the National Association of Major Mail Users, which represents businesses that use Canada Post to distribute marketing material, a strike is “very serious,” says president Kathleen Rowe. The industry group has called for an emergency debate in Parliament to focus on the economic impact of a postal disruption.
“Even the whisper of a strike starts causing the mailing industry harm,” Rowe said.
Since the threat of a strike emerged, there have been 5,000 to 7,000 layoffs in the industry, Rowe estimated, and that number will likely increase now that the strike has begun.
‘Not a blanket panacea’
While marketing campaigns may include electronic or digital components, Rowe says, substituting electronic delivery methods for postal delivery to get a message out “is not a blanket panacea.”
Canadians still like to get a piece of paper mail in their hands, she said.
“There’s only so much that you can do in a digital environment,” Rowe said. “That tactile piece of mail is a good mix within that marketing campaign.”