Canada Post Corporation (CPC) was created as a CROWN CORPORATION in 1981, as the successor to the Post Office Department. Its incorporation reflected a consensus, which had evolved over almost 20 years and was accepted by 3 successive federal governments, about the need for a new direction for the provision of postal services in Canada. Users had vigorously complained about the service and reliability of the Post Office Department, particularly after a series of strikes in the 1960s and 1970s. Postal unions argued that their collective bargaining rights were limited as long as they were government employees and required to negotiate with government agencies and departments rather than postal management. The government itself was concerned about the lack of financial and managerial accountability and the resulting growth in the operating deficit of the Post Office Department, which in 1980-81 was almost $500 million.

The CPC, under the Canada Post Corporation Act, has a broad mandate to operate a postal service for the transmission of messages, information, funds and goods and to provide other related services. The provision of "universal" letter service or service to all Canadians anywhere in Canada at affordable, uniform rates is central to this mandate.

Outside of its letter service, CPC competes directly with other suppliers and has the same flexibility enjoyed by private-sector enterprises to move in and out of markets and services. These "competitive" activities of CPC reflect the history of postal services in Canada and elsewhere. Canadian postal administrations have been providing parcel services since 1859, unaddressed advertising and printed matter distribution services since 1903, expedited delivery of documents since 1914, "hybrid" hard-copy electronic services since 1972 and courier services since 1979. In 1990 the CPC formed Canada Post Systems Management Ltd (CPSML) to market Canada Post systems and technology worldwide. Since its creation, CPSML has had 80 successful projects in 38 countries.

CPC and its affiliate Purolator Courier Ltd collected, processed and delivered 9.23 billion pieces of mail and parcels during the 1997-98 fiscal year. In doing so, they served 30 million Canadians and over 900 000 businesses and public institutions. Each working day, CPC and its affiliate deliver an average of 37 million pieces of mail, processed through 22 major plants and many other facilities, to over 12.7 million addresses in Canada, and forward mail to virtually every country in the world.

Together with its affiliated companies, Canada Post ranks 32nd among Canadian businesses in terms of revenue and is the 5th largest employer in Canada, with 63 000 full and part-time employees. Canada Post offers customers a network of approximately 20 000 retail points of access. Nearly 80% of these locations are operated by private businesses, a relationship that dates back to the formation of Canada's postal system.

In 1997-98 Canada Post reported a consolidated net income of $36 million on revenues of almost $5.1 billion. This represents a decrease of $76 million from the previous year's net income of $112 million. Canada Post's basic letter rate is among the lowest of the major industrialized countries.