“I didn't feel people with disabilities were at all consulted about this decision,” said Craig Ticalo, a Sudbury-based lawyer and board member with Independent Living Sudbury Manitoulin. “Why are we basically taking people's autonomy away? That's basically what's going on here.”
Canada Post announced Wednesday it would phase out home deliveries to five million homes as part of its new five-point plan.
“Delivering to a community mailbox is much less expensive than delivering to the door,” the Crown corporation said in a release. “The first neighbourhoods to be converted will be announced in the near term once plans for this initial stage are finalized.”
Ticalo said it will be difficult for people with physical disabilities, who currently receive their mail at home, to adjust to the community mailboxes.
He said change could be too onerous for seniors with disabilities and could push them out of their own homes in favour of retirement homes.
“I think we should do everything possible to keep seniors, when possible, in their own homes,” Ticalo said.
Patricia Douglas, chair for the Sudbury chapter of the Canadian Association Of Retired Persons (CARP), said frail seniors could risk injury by venturing to community mailboxes on a daily basis, especially during the winter months.
“All it takes is one fall, and she wouldn’t be able to stay there (in her home) anymore,” Douglas said, referring to her 92-year-old mother. “Her ability gets a little bit less all the time.”
Douglas said about 25 per cent of CARP members in Sudbury are not computer literate, and are highly dependent on the mail to pay their bills, receive newsletters, and any subscriptions they may receive on a regular basis.
Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino said the community mailboxes, such as a relatively new one at the corner of Marcel Street and Bouchard Street, near Southview Drive, can cause planning nightmares and create dangerous situations for seniors and people with disabilities.
“These people will have to navigate a street with 10,000 vehicles per day, no sidewalk to the side and no pedestrian crossing on Southview,” Cimino said about the mailbox's location.
He added Canada Post did not consider other options to create new revenue streams and maintain its same level of service.
One such option, Cimino said, would have been to consider adding banking services at post offices, as is done in a number of European countries.
John Lindsay, chair of Friendly to Seniors, said his group has suggested another option to reduce the cost of mail delivery without dropping the door-to-door service.
“Some seniors said they wouldn't mind if mail was delivered every other day,” Lindsay said. “Some of them said that since there's not that much volume coming in, maybe just one day a week.”