CCD before Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

Accessible, Affordable and Inclusive Canada Post Service Important to Canadians with Disabilities

Briefing Note Re: Proposed Changes to Canada Post Service

For CCD's Testimony Before the
Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities


CCD is a national organization of people with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada.  Canadians with disabilities, we are everyone- moms, dads, students, workers, Members of Parliament, jobseekers, retirees. Probably there are people with disabilities in your families.  Likely at some time in your life you too will experience disability.

Statistics about Prevalence of Disability

In 2012, about 3.8 million people, or 13.7% of Canadians aged 15 and older, reported being limited in their daily activities because of a disability. The results come from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD).

The prevalence of disability increases steadily with age. 1 in 10 working-age Canadians (aged 15 to 64) reported having a disability in 2012, compared with just over one-third of Canadian seniors (aged 65 and older). Women (14.9%) have a higher prevalence of disability than men (12.5%).

Statistics about Seniors who Do Not Travel

For seniors with disabilities that do not travel locally, 56 percent consider themselves housebound. Seniors that are housebound list health problems as the number one reason (48 percent). Besides health problems, the main reasons why seniors with disabilities are housebound differ for each age group: Older seniors are more likely to not want to go out (44 percent) and need assistance (37 percent) than younger seniors, who are more likely to feel that transportation is not available (19 percent). Older Canadians however, are more likely to not go out because they have no companion (28 percent). (

Making An Accessible Service Less Accessible

CCD is concerned that the proposal to end door-to-door service will make a service which is currently accessible, less accessible to people with disabilities.  When Canada ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) it made a commitment to not do anything that would reduce already existing accessible services. (Article 4 of the CRPD)

Learning from the Lived Experience of People with Disabilities

Canada Post’s proposal to end door-to-door postal services will adversely impact Canadians with disabilities.  Communal mailbox delivery is inaccessible for those with mobility or vision impairments and will make people with disabilities more dependent upon family and friends to pick up their mail for them.  The experience of those in our network who have experience with existing communal mailbox service highlights the problems with this model of service delivery.  CCD's Chairperson Tony Dolan, a wheelchair user, lives in an area where Canada Post has implemented the communal service model.  He reports that the service is inaccessible to him and he must rely on his spouse to get his mail.  Not everyone with a disability lives with another person who has the ability to retrieve their mail.

Identifying Barriers

The communal mailbox will be a barrier for many Canadians with disabilities, because due to weather and snow conditions sidewalks can become impassable for persons who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids.  For persons whose disabilities cause fatigue, a trip to the communal mailbox will be an additional task that they will have to juggle in their daily routine.  Due to poverty, some people with disabilities live in unsafe neighborhoods, as housing costs are lower, and may feel vulnerable when retrieving their mail from a communal box.  Due to these and other constraints, some people will have to rely on friends, neighbors or volunteers from charitable agencies for help with mail retrieval and this lessens the independence of persons with disabilities.  Having other people pick-up an individual's mail reduces their privacy and this could be particularly worrisome for women with disabilities living in abusive situations.  They may not want their abuser having access to personal documents that come in the mail, such as bank statements. 

Ableist Assumptions and the Digital Divide

While reliance on information and communication technology instead of Canada Post may be an option for some Canadians, not all Canadians can afford to have internet service at home.  Canadians with disabilities face a disproportionate level of poverty, thus internet service is beyond the budget of some people with disabilities, especially those reliant on social assistance as there is very little discretionary income when you are a social assistance recipient.  In addition, some Canadians with disabilities require adapted technology to make the information and communication technology accessible and this comes with an additional cost. 

Income Statistics

According to the 2006 PALS, low income is a significant issue for large numbers of people with disabilities from age 15 to 64 after which the poverty rate drops significantly and among seniors, falls to a level that is similar to seniors without disabilities.

Statistics on Internet Access

In 2010, according to Statistics Canada, eight out of 10 Canadian households had Internet access. Access rates were higher in large cities, where about 81 per cent of households had access, and lower in small cities (76 per cent) and rural areas (71 per cent). There was, however, a considerable income divide in Internet access with wealthier households far more likely than poorer households to have access. If Canadian households are split into four groups based on income, the richest one-quarter of households, those with annual incomes of $87,000 or more, had almost universal (97 per cent) access. At the other end of the income divide, barely half (54 per cent) of the poorest one-quarter of households, those with incomes of $30,000 or less, had Internet access.

Of the 21 per cent of Canadian households that didn't have Internet access, more than half (56 per cent) told Statistics Canada they had no interest in it, one-fifth (20 per cent) cited the cost of access or equipment and 15 per cent said they lacked a device, such a computer, with which to connect. (

The Importance of Mail Carriers

In many ways there is no substitute for having other people interacting with people with disabilities because other people often provide helpful "accommodations" which help disabled people navigate barriers.  Mail carriers (albeit unofficially) play a role in "looking out" for vulnerable people in their communities (whether they are people with disabilities or seniors, or both!) and can be the first to notice that the mail is accumulating and that something might be amiss.

Unacceptable Options

In some media discussions around this issue, we have heard it suggested that door-to-door mail service be continued for people with disabilities and seniors.  A twin-track mail delivery system would be problematic because people would have to meet eligibility criteria for the door-to-door service.  There are already too many services where people with disabilities must spend time and money to prove their eligibility.  Canadians with disabilities do not need another parallel service system which they will be required to navigate.  In addition, if door-to-door service was provided only to people with disabilities this would identify where a person with disability lives and might make them targets for home invasions or other types of crimes.

Rate Increases

The proposed rate increase will be a barrier for people with disabilities who are living in poverty and for nonprofit charitable organizations that use the mail to both educate the public and to raise funds through direct mail solicitations.

CCD's Proposal

Rather than completely eliminating door-to-door service, it would be preferable to reduce service from daily to a lesser number of deliveries per week.

CCD urges the Committee to work with Canada Post to preserve some form of door-to-door service so that people with disabilities do not face more exclusion and dependency.