How Canada Post’s home delivery cuts could affect seniors and the disabled

Watch above: NDP MP Peter Julian concerned over how announced changes to Canada Post will affect seniors

TORONTO – Canada Post is trying to cut costs by phasing out door-to-door letter mail delivery in urban centres, but many are concerned that seniors are also being cut out of contact.

The Green Party’s Elizabeth May said the decision to replace personal delivery with community mailboxes would “disproportionately affect the elderly and Canadians living with disabilities, for whom home delivery of letters and parcels provides a critical link.”

Judith Wahl, executive director of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE), is shocked by the announcement.

“I could see that this could be very difficult for older adults; certain older adults who don’t have the independence to go down the street to some community mailbox,” said Wahl.

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Another seniors advocacy group, CARP, has been receiving calls from concerned members all day, according to vice president Susan Eng.

“It’s very hard because although they might be independent in their own homes, getting out and about is not easy for them,” said Eng. “And in weather like this, it also can be risky.”

READ MORE: 7 things to know about Canada Post’s plan to axe home delivery

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Eng said people who don’t have family or caregivers will be denied access to things like bills or likely more importantly, cards and letters from family.

“This demographic is probably the last demographic who actually really supports the postal service,” she said. “They rely on it, they care about it, they don’t see that email is necessarily a substitute. Some can’t afford…a computer and so on.”

But Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton said that the issues around community mailboxes aren’t new to Canada Post, who’ve been delivering to community mailboxes for 30 years. He said they’ve worked with Canadians across the country to best provide the service and “haven’t had issues.”

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“[Community mailboxes] have been a reality in part of the Canadian landscape for three decades,” said Hamilton. “Not only has that given us the opportunity to figure out how to do this really well, but to serve a variety of Canadians and the needs that they have.”

Hamilton said if someone has mobility issues, they often have people who come to help them. Canada Post will provide extra keys so the mail gets picked up when that person is visiting.

“We ensure that we provide a box that’s accessible—because there’s different heights of boxes—and we’ll ease any obstructions as much as possible, we ensure we clear the snow, and things like that.”

Watch below: Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton on how changes will affect residents

Regardless of the fact that two thirds of Canadians have been using community mailboxes successfully, Wahl plans to speak with seniors who are “more housebound” to get their reaction to the end of door-to-door delivery.

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Eng has been referring members to “E-voice” – a tool on the CARP website that allows people to search for their federal or provincial representatives, and send emails directly to that MP. Eng believes many seniors will be calling or emailing their elected officials personally.

Wahl is also investigating whether ACE could fight the decision from a legal standpoint.

On the other hand, Wahl highlighted the potential for entrepreneurs in what could be a new niche market.

“I could see entrepreneurs getting into the business of offering that service [picking up the mail] at a cost,” she said.

“Something that we have enjoyed as part of living in Canada might disappear.”

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