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CCD Appears Before Parliamentary Committee Regarding Canada Post Door to Door Service
Budget cuts to home mail delivery service means that Canada Post plans to eradicate this service altogether. They believe that providing a community mailbox can be a sufficient enough substitute for daily home mail delivery. This is untrue, and CCD is working with both the government and the postal service to ensure the retention of home mail delivery.
In September 2016, John Rae, 1st Vice Chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), presented in Toronto before the House of Commons Government and Operations Committee. He addressed the proposed change to the postal service from the perspective of people with disabilities.
John noted that any decision to do away with or limit home mail delivery service directly affects more than three million Canadians who live with a disability. A community mailbox poses challenges for people who might have difficulty with dexterity and mobility (getting to the mailbox) and with sight (sorting and reading mail), and with hearing (hearing someone else nearby who might pose a threat or intercept the mail). A community mailbox might not be accessible to a person in a wheelchair, especially in wintertime, when they cannot rely on snow removal to make an accessible path to the mailbox.
John further pointed out that relying on others to collect mail is a violation of privacy that can lead to abuse. One’s mail can contain sensitive material, especially with bills and banking.
Door to door mail services are essential not just for people with disabilities, but for people who do not travel. A person who has chronic pain, limited mobility, or low vision can’t as easily access a community mailbox. Accessing mail at home can also foster a sense of independence and autonomy, for a person with a disability does not have to depend on anyone else for help with retrieving the mail.
John made the point that a mail carrier can be of invaluable assistance to a person who has a disability or who is elderly. If a mail carrier notices that someone’s mail is piling up, they could be one of the first people to know that one of the residents of a building or a home may need help that they might not be able to request or access. Due to poverty, people with disabilities too often have to live in unsafe neighbourhoods and would prefer to access their mail at home rather than going out to retrieve it and risk being harmed or taken advantage of.
Carlos Sosa, on behalf of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD), also presented before the House of Commons Government and Operations Committee in Winnipeg. He said that, though much of our communication and bill-paying can be done online, many people do not have internet access or access to a computer. They might not be able to afford the assistive technology that would allow them to use a computer or the internet. Home mail service is essential for those who cannot or choose not to use the internet. When people assume that everyone can use their phones, tablets, or computers and this renders home mail service unnecessary, they discriminate against those who rely on the service and don’t have alternative ways of accessing their mail.
Carlos further mentioned that many banks have left small rural communities. Many people from low-income households and people with disabilities who cannot access banks rely on loan services to cash their cheques. Loan services charge unreasonable fees that many people on social assistance or with disabilities cannot afford to pay. Introducing a postal service that would also offer banking would allow people with disabilities and those on social assistance to access their money (and their mail) without paying the fees they would incur through a loan service. Postal banking would provide an ease of service that would allow people to manage their mail and their banking needs.
Reducing door to door service to two or three days a week is not an adequate solution to the problem. Neither businesses nor people with disabilities would be satisfied with this model. It is unfair that people in cities would get five or six days per week of mail service and rural areas only one or two. It puts people with disabilities at unnecessary risk, and they have the same rights to safety, privacy, necessary assistance, and regular mail service as everyone else.