The head of Canada's postal service has announced he plans to step down next spring, nearly three years before his contract was set to expire.
Canada Post says Deepak Chopra has advised the Crown corporation's board of directors that he intends leave his position on March 31, 2018.
Chopra's signalled departure comes as the federal Liberal government ruminates about whether to restore door-to-door mail delivery to tens of thousands of homes.
The former Pitney Bowes Canada executive joined the agency in 2011 as it faced a dramatic shift in revenue streams, from declining mail volumes to a growing parcel delivery business.
The previous Conservative government had renewed his contract prior to the 2015 election, effective Feb. 2016, despite criticisms of Canada Post's cost-cutting moves, including the phase-out of door-to-door delivery.
The move to community mailboxes became a hot topic during the 2015 campaign, with the Liberals winning power under a platform that included a promise to review the home delivery decision.
Once in office, the Liberals placed a moratorium on any future conversions of home delivery to community mailboxes.
A spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote, who has been on leave from her cabinet post, said a decision on the future of home delivery was expected some time before the end of 2017.
The president of the union representing postal workers said he hopes Chopra's departure signals an end to cost-cutting at Canada Post and a renewed commitment by the postal agency to maintain the services Canadians want.
Chopra leaves "a legacy of failed cuts," said Canadian Union of Postal Workers national president Mike Palecek.
"So, hopefully this will be a new chapter for Canada Post."
Chopra was among dozens of people appointed to plum patronage posts in the dying days of Stephen Harper's Conservative government who were asked, once the Liberals took power, to voluntarily step down.
Chopra, who was reportedly paid an estimated $500,000 annually, declined to do so.
In a statement, Canada Post said Chopra has left an enduring legacy that has positioned the corporation as the country's leader in e-commerce delivery in the face of declining mail deliveries, noting that the agency delivered two billion fewer pieces of mail last year than at its peak in 2006.
The agency said Chopra had also co-operated with the government as it reviewed the mandate of Canada Post.