Hon. ERNEST BERTRAND (Postmaster General):
I wish to make a statement in connection with the rates and weight limits of parcels being sent to England and on the continent.
In the course of the past few weeks, I have answered questions on the subject. Letters in regard thereto have been received by some of my colleagues and myself, and open letters, which unfortunately did not put facts in their true light, have been sent to newspapers. It is hoped that this further statement will clear up the matter.
Shortly after the end of the war in Europe attempts were made to restore mail service, particularly parcel post services to European countries, and it has been found possible to resume the mail service for correspondence to most places, but the parcel post services are another matter and they have presented many difficulties arising out of factors entirely out of Canadian postal authorities' control.
As the house knows, shipping facilities are not always of the best, and the question of the ability of the country of destination to provide delivery has been found to be the main difficulty. We have been successful in resuming the parcel post services to England (up to a weight limit of five pounds), to Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland up to eleven pounds, and to Italy and the Vatican City state up to four pounds for gift parcels containing food, drugs, toilet articles and used clothing.
This has required constant effort, as in all cases, with the exception of one, the Netherlands, our parcel post services are at present operating through Great Britain, who are sorely pressed as regards staff and accommodation but have been most cooperative in assisting us to the greatest degree possible. The shipping situation from the United Kingdom also comes into the picture, but we are sure they are placing all facilities possible at our disposal. The fact that England has set a weight limit of five pounds and is transmitting parcels to the continent up to a weight limit of eleven pounds shows her willingness to help devastated countries.
As regards the question of parcel post rates, the parcel post service to the Netherlands, which I previously stated operates on the direct route without going through England, is, of course, the cheapest service. On all eleven pound parcels to the Netherlands, the rate is SI.60; to France it is $2.25; to Switzerland $2.10; to Belgium $2.05, and to Sweden $2.60.
Parcel postal rates from Canada to other *countries are based on the charges due to the *country of destination and any intermediary *countries, when it is found necessary to route the parcels through those countries. Also on the amount due Canada for handling and transportation by railway in Canada, including the conveyance across the Atlantic at 75 cents per cubic foot, which is the same for any parcel going to continental Europe, except the Netherlands.
In the case of those countries in Europe to which it has been possible to resume parcel post services, it has been found1 necessary to route the parcels through England. Direct steamship services will be used as soon as they become available and when we are assured of proper accommodation and regularity of service.
Our main efforts, of course, have been directed to the reopening of these various parcel post services to those countries in Europe who have so greatly suffered during the war, and which would permit some measure of relief being sent to them by civilians in Canada. It is quite true that in some cases the rates might be considered a trifle high, but it is purely a question of what we have to pay other countries for handling in addition to the cost of the conveyance in Canada and transatlantic dispatch to Europe.
Complaints have also been lodged as to the delivery of parcels, a number of which have not reached their destination. This is absolutely beyond our control. All parcels were sent in good condition from Canada and with the least possible delay. While we are following up these matters with diligence, we cannot press the receiving countries to change their own regulations.
Subtopic: PARCELS TO GREAT BRITAIN-WEIGHT LIMITATIONS