Canada Post changes worry people with mobility issues

People with mobility issues are speaking out against Canada Post's decision to phase out door-to-door mail delivery for urban customers.

Concerns include possible safety risks, increased isolation

Randy Dickinson says he won't be able to reach the upper level community mailboxes from his wheelchair. (CBC)
People with mobility issues are speaking out against Canada Post's decision to phase out door-to-door mail delivery for urban customers.

Ability New Brunswick has been inundated with complaints from members who are concerned about the switch to community mailboxes, says spokesperson Haley Flaro.

They say getting their mail from a community box will be difficult, and in some cases, dangerous.

"The lack of curb cuts, lack of level sidewalks, lack of crosswalks and lack of adequate snow clearance in many communities will pose safety risks to many," Flaro said in a statement.

"We are concerned about increased falls and hospitalizations for those who rely on the at home delivery. We are also concerned this will increase isolation for many."

Randy Dickinson, a wheelchair user who is the former chair of the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons, agrees.

"Although I understand the financial challenges of the post office, I don't think they realize a lot of seniors, a lot of low income people, can't afford a computer, they don't have the literacy skills, they can't afford the monthly charges to be on the internet,"' he said.

"Therefore, they are going to be at a significant disadvantage as these community mailboxes become the norm as opposed to just going into new subdivisions."

Service overhaul will also hurt businesses

Door-to-door mail delivery in urban areas is being phased out and replaced with community mailboxes.
The move to community boxes is part of sweeping changes announced by Canada Post earlier this week. The postal service hopes to save hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Right now, more than five million letters are delivered door-to-door each year at a cost of $269 per address. By comparison, serving 3.8 million people with group boxes costs about $117 per address.

Part of the savings will also come on the labour side, with the loss of up to 8,000 positions.

Stamp prices will also jump to $1, up from 63 cents, effective March 31.

Dickinson says he's not sure how Canada Post expects to increase business while reducing service and raising costs.

He says the Crown corporation is alienating the people most likely to use regular mail service.

Remi Duguay, who co-owns a store that specializes in volleyball gear, says Canada Post also plays a vital role in his business.

He sends customers packages around the world.

"We rely a hundred per cent on Canada Post for all our shipping. And in the busy season we might be shipping 15 boxes a day. So it's an important supplier to us," he said.

Duguay is worried the Crown corporation's overhaul could mean a hike in shipping rates.

"The customer is eventually going to pay for it. And at some point, if they become more expensive than Purolator, we will have to switch over to Purolator because we're looking for the cheapest reliable service we can find," he said. "Right now, it's Canada Post."


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