Alberni seniors brackish on Canada Post mail plan

Port Alberni Sunshine Club president Maureen Brechin says Canada Post
Port Alberni Sunshine Club president Maureen Brechin says Canada Post's plan to cease mail delivery to homes will impact more than 300 seniors in the club.
— image credit: WAWMEESH G. HAMILTON/Alberni Valley News

Reaction in the Alberni Valley is mixed about Canada Post’s decision to phase out door-to-door mail delivery starting next year.

Last week, Canada Post announced it is phasing out home delivery and laying off approximately 8,000 mail carriers over the next five years.

The letter giant will be replacing door-to-door delivery in urban areas with community mailboxes. And it is also hiking stamp prices from 63 cents to 85 cents per stamp when purchasing booklets or coils of stamps, while an individual stamp will increase from 63 cents to $1.

The moves are needed to offset mounting financial losses, which last quarter amounted to $129 million, according to Canada Post. A recent Conference Board of Canada report estimated that the postal service would lose $1 billion annually by 2020.

Critics said that the move will impact seniors, those with mobility issues and shut-ins the most. Also, that the boxes present a crime risk.

Local reaction to the plan was mixed.

The move will impact the members of the Port Alberni Sunshine Club, president Maureen Brechin said.

“It will mostly effect those of our members who are over 70 who have mobility issues or (are) house bound,” Brechin said. “It will affect about one third of our 1,100 members.”

Walking to the mail box isn’t an issue for seniors who are under age 70 and still agile. “But trying to walk to the mailbox when you’re 90 and have mobility issues isn’t the same,” she said.

According to Brechin affected seniors will have to find someone to get their mail for them. Home support workers are out because many aren’t allowed to perform the service.

And switching to online bill paying isn’t an option for most seniors. “A lot of seniors don’t know how to use a computer. They still pay their phone and hydro bills by cheque and mail,” she said.

The increased cost of stamps will also impact the elderly, Brechin said. “Seniors are the last group of people who rely heavily on the mail.”

The issue hasn’t been raised at the Sunshine Club by members yet. “But this happened recently, and it’s the holidays so we haven’t been doing as much.”

Not all seniors will be impacted by the move.

The decision won’t affect the seniors who live at Pioneer Towers and Pioneer Cottages, said Ernie Bigelow, president of the Alberni Valley Senior Citizens Homes Society. “We already use box and kiosk so it won’t affect our residents.”

Some seniors also live in areas of town where they already fetch mail from a mailbox, said Arnold and Monique Begg, who live in West Porte Place. “We’re so used to it now that it’s really not an issue for us,” Monique said.

What is an issue for the Beggs though is the plan to boost stamp prices. “We send more than 100 Christmas cards to people every year so I don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said.

The plan isn’t expected to affect the 120 clients who use the Port Alberni Association for Community Living, executive director Craig Summers said. The agency provides support to people with developmental challenges and children with special needs.

“Our participants in residential settings have staff that can retrieve the mail and for our participants involved with our other programs, they’re either quite independent or have a caregiver that can assist them,” Summers said.

Repeated calls to Canada Post and to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers about how many staff are impacted in Alberni and how they intend to work with seniors weren’t answered by deadline.


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