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End of door-to-door postal delivery concerns seniors

Canada Post's planned end to door-to-door mail delivery sparked some concern amongst Comox Valley seniors and people with mobility issues.

Canada Post unveiled a plan last week it says will return the system to financial sustainability by 2019. Five measures were announced, one being a phase-out of door-to-door delivery with community mailboxes replacing that service. The changeover is expected to start next year and take five years to complete.

Support Our Seniors Comox Valley's Gwyn Frayne says many Comox Valley seniors and people with mobility issues are concerned about this change.

"I've heard from a lot of people and I just know it's going to be really disastrous for our community," says Frayne. "I know a lot of people who cannot walk even a block — if the community mailboxes were that close it would still be too hard."

According to Canada Post, only one-third of Canadian households receive their mail via door-to-door delivery; two-thirds of households receive their mail through community mailboxes, grouped or lobby mailboxes or rural mailboxes.

But, Frayne says seniors and people with mobility issues may choose to live in urban areas due to better access to services, such as door-to-door mail delivery.

According to Canada Post, the community mailboxes feature individually locked mail and small packet compartments and larger locked compartments for parcels.

But, Frayne says she's heard worries about potential theft issues, a concern Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Courtenay Local president Ruth Mills echoes regarding parcel pickup and dropoff.

"There's a security issue with community mailboxes because (the parcel is) sitting in the box," says Mills, noting one benefit is the flexibility of parcel pickup and dropoff, but parcels that are too big for the box will need to be picked up at a local post office.

She says Canada Post's plan decreases customer service, and questions how that will improve its sustainability.

"We should be expanding postal service and we should be addressing the needs of our customers," says Mills. "Businesses grow best by being in contact with the customer, as opposed to being removed from the customer.

"One of the reasons why Canada Post is a good brand and people trust it is because we are at the door — we are connecting with people, they see us every day."

Canada Post's plan also includes increased rates for letter mail, effective March 31. Stamps for letters weighing zero to 30 grams mailed within Canada now cost 63 cents each. Under the new tiered pricing next year, stamps will cost 85 cents per stamp when bought in a booklet or coil, and will cost $1 per stamp when bought singly.

Other parts of the plan include more franchise postal outlets in stores, streamlining operations for more efficient flow of parcels and mail, and addressing the cost of labour.

Canada Post expects nearly 15,000 employees to retire or leave in the next five years; it plans to cut 6,000 to 8,000 positions, mainly via attrition.

In its announcement, Canada Post cites a Conference Board of Canada study projecting nearly $1 billion in financial losses by 2020 for Canada Post, unless fundamental changes are made. The Crown corporation also notes it has a mandate to cover operational costs via revenues from its products and services, rather than burdening taxpayers.

To view the plan, visit https://www.canadapost.ca.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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