Toronto

Mail delivery suspension an 'absolute nightmare,' say tenants at Thorncliffe Park apartment building

Residents at a Thorncliffe Park apartment complex have not received their mail since Oct. 18, after Canada Post suspended delivery, citing COVID-19 safety concerns in the building.

Canada Post stopped delivery on Oct. 18 because residents weren't wearing masks

Masood Alam, right, says residents at 43 Thorncliffe Park Dr. are finding it difficult to access their mail. Canada Post suspended delivery because it says some residents who live there are not wearing masks, making it unsafe for postal workers. (CBC)

Tenants at a Thorncliffe Park apartment complex protested Friday against a Canada Post decision to deny them mail delivery for more than six weeks, because it says not enough residents are wearing masks in the building.

The tenants say they should not be unfairly punished due to a handful of people not adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols — and they're calling on the crown corporation to resume regular service.

"It has been an absolute nightmare not receiving mail," Syed Benazir, a building resident, told CBC Toronto.

In addition to the protest outside 43 Thorncliffe Park Dr. on Friday, about a dozen residents held an outreach event to distribute masks and hand sanitizer to everyone entering and leaving the building.

On Oct. 18, Canada Post suspended mail delivery to the building after deeming it unsafe, saying its mail carriers have to enter common areas where some residents are not wearing masks. 

As a result of the suspension, Canada Post has said residents can pick up their mail from its facility at 70 Wynford Dr., almost four kilometres away. That's about a 30-minute trip by public transit and up to 15 minutes by car. 

'It's very inconvenient'

"It's not only far away, it's very inconvenient, especially for seniors," said Masood Alam, a resident of the building. "[The] timing is also very inconvenient from noon to 3 p.m. If I'm working during the day, I cannot go there."

Alam, who is also the chair of the building's residents' steering committee, says he's been pushing for a solution but has been unsuccessful so far. 

"Despite our best efforts to contact Canada Post, our building management Morguard Properties, area City Councillor and MP's office, the postal service delivery has not been restored," he said.

On Oct. 18, Canada Post suspended delivery, saying its workers had to enter common areas where some residents are not wearing masks.  (CBC)

Benazir says this is the third time mail delivery has been "abruptly" suspended at the Thorncliffe building since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The only reason Canada Post gives is there's not 100 per cent mask compliance … Show me one building where there is 100 per cent compliance. We understand it is necessary; we understand it's important."

In February, Canada Post temporarily denied mail delivery to two other high-rise buildings in Toronto due to similar concerns over non-compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.

Benazir says the disruptions are disproportionately affecting seniors and people with mobility issues.

"It's totally unfair," he said.

"We have seniors here not getting their cheques on time; we have people with disabilities who cannot access their mail; we have single mothers and people without access to personal transportation who are left in the lurch."

Canada Post responds

In an email to CBC Toronto, Canada Post says it is working with the property management to resolve the issue and resume regular service "as soon as possible."

"We take the temporary suspension of mail delivery and the well-being of our employees very seriously," a spokesperson for the corporation said on Friday.

"Our goal is always to find a resolution as quickly as possible in these situations."

Canada Post says the tenants can pick up their mail at its facility on Wynford Drive in North York, but some say it is a difficult commute for seniors and people with mobility issues. (CBC)

Rob Oliphant, the MP for Don Valley West, says he is "outraged" that the suspension has lasted this long, adding he has tried to work with Canada Post to find a better solution.

"I've requested a temporary emergency mail delivery truck to go out there and people can receive the mail on the spot instead of going to a delivery depot," Oliphant said.

But he says he was told those delivery trucks are reserved for emergencies. 

Coun. Jaye Robinson, who represents the area on Toronto city council, says she has asked for postal workers to deliver the mail using the building's service elevators.

"There's been no takeup on that offer, which is again really frustrating that Canada Post can't find a solution to help these residents," Robinson said.

With files from Ali Chiasson

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