Deepak Chopra, Canada Post's CEO, told MPs at a special emergency meeting of the transport committee that seniors would welcome the exercise offered by cuts to home deliveries across the country and installation of community mail boxes in the service's place.
“What a ridiculous comment,” said Patricia Douglas, CARP Sudbury's chair. “What seniors has he been talking to? Definitely not the seniors up in Sudbury.”
According to the Sudbury and District Health Unit falls are a leading cause of injury and death among seniors.
One in three seniors over the age of 65 is likely to fall at least once per year and that risk increases with age. Seniors 85 and older are 3.4 times more likely to fall than the general population.
Douglas said falls can lead to a loss of mobility and independence for seniors. Falls often force seniors out of their homes, she said, and makes them dependent on nursing homes, where their needs can more easily be met.
Canada Post announced on Dec. 11 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.”
Sudbury MP Glenn Thibeault said Canada Post made the decision without any public consultations.
“I think what they did was a very sneaky move because they waited until the House (of Commons) was in recess, before we could even question the government on this,” Thibeault said.
Thibeault said Chopra's comments regarding seniors were in poor taste. “Telling people how they can get exercise by walking out to these post boxes is just ridiculous,” he said. “He was able to get his 33 per cent bonus even though the company was losing all of its money. Then they make these decisions to jack up prices and reduce services.”
Thibeault has encouraged his constituents to sign a petition to call upon the federal government to reverse the cuts to Canada Post's services, and to look instead for ways to modernize operations.
John Lindsay, chair of Friendly to Seniors, said many of the seniors he has spoken with would accept a reduced level of service as long as door-to-door deliveries did not end.
Lindsay said some Friendly to Seniors members suggested mail delivery could be reduced to just a few days a week, while maintaining the door-to-door service.