Billings council lobbies against further cuts to post office services

KAGAWONG—With Billings’ council letting Canada Post officials know they are upset with further cuts being proposed for the Kagawong post office, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes has indicated that the post office will remain open during the noon hour, as it currently is. The noon hour time is the busiest time of the day at the post office and was proposed to be closed by Canada Post.

“Basically Canada Post had said they would be revisiting the hours to be cut based on the usage of the Kagawong post office,” Ms. Hughes told the Recorder on Wednesday. “Initially the township council had been told they would have the chance to review the Canada Post proposal, but then they (Canada Post) set out in changing the hours without council’s input.” Mayor Austin Hunt “contacted me last week on these concerns and I asked him to provide a couple of alternatives they would like to see from postmaster Michael Hunt, including the preferred alternative.”

“I spoke to the minister on council’s concerns, and MP Mike Abuie, and it was agreed they would allow the preferred hours that the postmaster had sent,” the MP said. “The biggest thing they wanted to see was the noon hour operations of the post office to remain the same, and we have received confirmation from Canada Post that this will remain.”

Mayor Austin Hunt told council at a meeting on Tuesday he had done some research and had contacted Canada Post when it was announced the Crown agency was going to close the post office on Saturdays.

However, Mayor Hunt said he had also received a letter that Canada Post would be cutting much more that just the noon hour. He told council not only would the post office no longer be open 3.5 hours on Saturdays, but would be closed another 6.5 hours per week. He said Canada Post officials had been told the 12 noon to 1 pm timeframe is the busiest time at the post office on a regular day, and the postmaster had suggested the office be open a half hour earlier in the morning and close a half hour earlier at the end of the day.

When Mayor Hunt made his the concerns with the proposed cuts known he was told by a Canada Post official, “he wasn’t very supportive and said that people will just get used to the cutbacks.”

Mayor Hunt then proceeded to contact Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes to see if these cuts could be held up.

Mayor Hunt also raised a concern that although it hasn’t been confirmed by Canada Post, that by reducing the hours the post office is open it could mean the post office services would be downgraded by Canada Post, meaning they would be put further down the list for things like new computers or electric scales in the future.

It was at this point that Mayor Hunt left the council meeting, declaring a conflict of interest, and letting the rest of the council members to discuss the entire issue.

Councillor Sandi Hurcomb read a motion stating that while council is in appreciation of Canada Post services in the community, they are concerned that Saturday hours were being cut and unclear why Canada Post is cutting nine hours a week from the post office (including 3.5 hours on Saturday). It was also noted in the motion that these cuts would also mean the grading for Kagawong post would be lowered and as the postal services are important to the community development, they would send a letter outlining their concerns to Canada Post and MP Carol Hughes.

“I think this letter should also be sent to the postmaster general in Ottawa,” suggested Councillor Brian Parker, which was added to the motion and passed by council.

“They’re cutting nine hours per week, including 3.5 hours on Saturdays,” said Ms. Hurcomb.

“So basically we are losing a quarter of our postal office hours per week,” said Mr. Parker. “This is going to hurt everyone.”

“And single people who work and can’t get to the post office until Saturdays won’t have the chance to do their mailing,” said Councillor Gerry Mack.

“And if are post office is downgraded it means there will be other problems in the future,” said Mr. Parker.

Tom Sasvari