Doctors in Nova Scotia have been taken aback by Canada Post’s plan to enlist the help of medical professionals in an effort to continue home delivery.
They say the request could take valuable time away from patient care.
The postal service is enlisting the help of medical professionals to write notes proving there's a medical need for letters to be dropped off at home.
This comes as Canada Post continues to phase out door-to-door delivery.
Mail volumes have dropped dramatically, and are expected to go down another 25 per cent in the next seven years, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada released in April 2013.
But doctors are reluctant to take on their presumed role in the mail company's new policy.
'Having physicians as gatekeepers is probably not the best way to moderate this' - Kevin Chapman, Doctors Nova Scotia
“Having physicians as gatekeepers is probably not the best way to moderate this,” said Kevin Chapman, director of health policy and promotion at Doctors Nova Scotia.
Canada Post said it’s been working with groups that specialize in seniors' and disability issues to come up with the idea.
The Crown Corporation said it has a system in place to tailor its mail service depending on need. People will fill out a questionnaire and after several steps, they may be required to get a note from a medical professional.
Canada Post said it expects that will be a much smaller number than those who apply. But it doesn't have estimates.
However doctors are showing a less-than-eager reaction.
Chapman said at least six physicians have called Doctors Nova Scotia concerned about the suggestion they'll have to write notes for Canada Post.
“I think we were all caught a little off guard by it, were surprised by the announcement,” said Chapman.
Chapman points out many people don't have access to a family physician to begin with.
“Having individuals go to their family doctor to satisfy what is essentially an administrative obligation ties up access to family physicians to people who really need to go there,” he said.
While the idea may be well-intentioned, it’s not where the Canada Post should bring the discussion of home delivery, said Chapman.
The Canadian Medical Association is also asking Canada Post to rethink the plan.
Neither the CMA nor Doctors Nova Scotia knew about the proposed plan before it was announced by Canada Post.
Canada Post said it is willing to meet with both concerned groups.
Nova Scotians reacted strongly to news that Canada Post was cutting home delivery, and adding community mailboxes.
In Halifax, Paul Jamieson said he depends on door-to-door mail service.
Jamieson uses a wheelchair, and said he's worried that he'll have trouble switching to community mailboxes.
“But I'm skeptical," he said. "I would like to think it's a legitimate offer to the community, if you prove to us that you really need it."
Canada Post will replace all home delivery service with community mailboxes over the next five years.