Peter Van Loan, right, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and the Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, make a statement on the government's legislative accomplishments on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, December 12, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press
Government House leader Peter Van Loan is striking back at critics of Canada Post's planned service cuts, comparing them to wealthy big-city dwellers who complained about having to lug their trash to the curb.
The Crown corporation has announced it will phase out door-to-door mail delivery in Canada's urban centres as a way to stem rising financial losses — a move that would also slash thousands of jobs.
The plan to deliver mail to communal neighbourhood "superboxes" impacts about one-third of Canadian households.
Van Loan, who summoned reporters to trumpet the government's accomplishments during the now-ended fall session of Parliament, says most of his constituents get their mail from superboxes so the change for other households is no big deal.
He said complaints reminds him of a time when residents of Toronto's ritzy Rosedale neighbourhood complained about spending cuts that forced garbage collectors to stop coming up their driveways to collect trash.
Van Loan said most Canadians are already getting their mail from superboxes and that Canada Post made the decision after consulting with customers.
"I am reminded of a time when the City of Toronto was going through some rationalization and trying to figure out how to deliver services," he said.
"The good people of Rosedale did not like the idea [that] no longer would the garbage man come up to the side of the house to take the garbage, it was going to have to be like it was for everybody else in the country, they would have to get it at the end of the driveway."
Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow rejected the comparison.
"To compare a senior who has mobility issues or a disabled person to a rich person that may have maids or a housekeeper, shows how out of touch Peter Van Loan is from the lives of ordinary Canadians," Chow told CBC News.
"I've heard from people ... a lady that has MS that depends on the weekly delivery of her medication through the mail and she can not walk," Chow said.
The MP also dismissed claims the changes are the result of consultations with Canadians.
"These so-called consultations that Canada Post have been doing, are done through the internet … the people that are going to be hurt have not been consulted," she said.
The Canada Post announcement came Wednesday, one day after the House of Commons rose for its holiday break.
Rural residences — a big Conservative constituency — will be spared from the latest service cuts.
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, who is responsible for the post office, said Canadians are sending fewer letters and parcels than ever, leaving the Crown corporation with no choice but to make tough decisions.