End of mail delivery may be tough on seniors, Kerby Centre head says

Canada Post’s plan to phase out door-to-door mail delivery has Luanne Whitmarsh, CEO of Calgary’s Kerby Centre, concerned for the wellbeing of a number of seniors.

“I’m for Canada Post making this change because I’m a taxpayer,” Whitmarsh said in a recent interview.

“I’m against the way they are doing it because they’re blanketing the decision, as opposed to targeting different ways to reduce their cost that won’t have so many social impacts,” she said.

Canada Post announced just before Christmas that it will phasing out door-to-door delivery across the country over the next five years, for the one in three Canadians still receiving it.

Instead, mail will be dropped at community mail boxes, which will require homeowners to walk to their designated box to collect their letters and parcels.

Canada Post described the new delivery system as being “more secure, convenient and cost effective [and] this method also better handles items ordered online.”

However, no provision will be made for people with physical disabilities and seniors with mobility problems.

Whitmarsh, however, expressed concern the new system will make it tougher for elderly people, who haven’t yet adapted to the use of the internet and email and rely on the postal service.

“Imagine no longer just being able to grab your mail from the front door, and having to rely on specific weather conditions, and medical states to be able to walk that block or several blocks to get your mail,” she said.

Her concerns were echoed by Tara Brady of Between Friends, a non-profit group that works with people with developmental and physical disabilities.

Brady is also for the changes that Canada Post is making regarding the community mail boxes, but worries that it will cause problems for clients of her organization.

“The downfall…is that those with limited mobility who may for example, use a walker or wheelchair to get around, must travel sometimes, a few blocks to gather their mail,” Brady said.

Imagine no longer just being able to grab your mail from the front door, and having to rely on specific weather conditions, and medical states to be able to walk that block or several blocks to get your mail. – Luanne Whitmarsh

As for solutions, Whitmarsh suggested trusted buddy systems to get the mail for those with limited mobility, more strategic infrastructure planning, and communication that supports those who don’t use online communication.

“Use some of the infrastructure to make it palatable to areas where there is a high concentration of people with disabilities or seniors, so that at least they don’t have to walk too far.”

Whitmarsh also noted that nowadays many seniors are left to their own devices, with the younger generation being too busy to look in on them regularly. If they are not comfortable using the Internet, they risk becoming even more cut off from their familes.

The solution might just require a few tweaks to the corporation’s plan, she suggested.

“At the very time people are told don’t give out info, seniors are now put in a more vulnerable position, maybe even putting their trust in a neighbor to get their mail, so it’s a sensitive and serious reality that needs to be addressed and taken into account.”

For further information, visit Canada Post’s five point action plan PDF at https://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/assets/pdf/aboutus/5_en.pdf.

About Shealin Boswell 8 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Shealin Boswell worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2013-2014 academic year.

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