Some rural mail carriers will be trying out right-hand-drive vehicles to see if avoiding the stretch to get letters into rural boxes makes their jobs any easier.
'It plays havoc on everyone's hip and shoulder.' — Eric Gauthier, rural mail carrier, CUPW
Canada Post is experimenting with three different kinds of vehicles in communities across the country in an effort to find a better way to serve the country's 800,000 rural mailboxes.
The Crown corporation has put 36 of the vehicles on the road.
Eric Gauthier, the Atlantic regional CUPW president, who delivers mail in rural areas outside of Charlottetown, said Tuesday that the 7,000 carriers using left-hand drive vehicles to deliver to roadside mailboxes in Canada have a difficult job.
Carriers are not allowed to leave their vehicles for safety reasons, so getting the mail into the boxes means unbuckling the seatbelt at every delivery to reach across to the passenger-side window.
Gauthier is on medication to deal with pain in his hips.
"It plays havoc on everyone's hip and shoulder," he said of the present service. "I can't tell you where I'll be in five years."
Gauthier said rural mail carriers would welcome right-hand-drive vehicles, but he is not optimistic about getting them. He is concerned that the union has not been consulted.
"As far as getting the cars, I can honestly say they're probably not going to, because they're going to say that [with] this financial meltdown that we had they have no money for it," he said.
"I would love to have one. I really would."
Canada Post spokesperson Genevieve Latour said the union will be consulted after the pilot study.
"We do involve our employees," she said. "However, in terms of the pilot, that's something that we've decided to do. Once we make a decision, of course, we will involve our employees."
Latour said the testing results will be out in May. She noted Canada Post is using some right-hand-drive vehicles in urban areas, but they are different models from the ones being tested.