Seniors, people with disabilities dread arrival of community mailboxes

Jim Day
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Canada Post mailboxes

The thought of having to venture out to a community mailbox strikes fear in many people accustomed to home delivery of mail.

Yet that is a reality Canadians not already making a trek to get their mail have learned they will be facing in the not-too-distant future. Canada Post unveiled sweeping changes Wednesday that will end all home mail delivery within five years and replace it with communal mailboxes.

Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, says people with serious mobility issues dread the eventual change that will leave them to their own devices to retrieve their mail.

“People are very concerned...people are nervous and they are scared,’’ says Carroll.

“They are wondering how it is going to effect them. They’re feeling very, very vulnerable and threatened.’’


Carroll says research shows that people with disabilities have been experiencing negative impacts with community mailboxes. Access is a challenge, particularly in winter.

Also, she adds, the crime element is a concern.

“There have been many documented cases of people being robbed at the (community) mailbox especially during cheque day,’’ says Carroll.

“They really need that door-to-door service and it also helps to break down isolation,’’ she adds. “It is that daily contact.’’

Scott Gaudet says many senior citizens look forward each day to the arrival of letter carriers like him.

He has one senior customer on his route in Summerside that regularly greets him at the door. He has concerns for how the woman, who uses a wheelchair to get around, will cope when she faces the shift to community mailboxes in her area.

“The individual is not going to be able to collect her mail,’’ says Gaudet.

“She will need to rely on somebody to get it for her and that is unacceptable.’’

He estimates about 200 of the approximately 700 customers on his route are seniors and/or people with physical disabilities.

“So it is going to impact a lot of people just on my route,’’ he says.

Sr. Norma Gallant, president of the P.E.I. Senior Citizens Federation, says seniors in rural areas have been having problems with community mailboxes ever since they were put into rural areas.

She says seniors are concerned about their safety when taking out valuable mail. They are also afraid of taking a tumble, she adds.

Organizations: Canada Post, P.E.I. Council of People, P.E.I. Senior Citizens Federation

Geographic location: Summerside

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Recent comments

  • a little empathy?
    December 13, 2013 - 13:23

    Vick...Merry Christmas. Might send you a card in the mail but you seem too grinchy? Or should I send it to a senior or disabled person? You would wish them to have them struggle ?

  • Dundas Sue
    December 13, 2013 - 11:37

    Rural seniors have been walking /driving for their mail for many mnay years - urban seniors having delievery to their door have had a luxury many in the country have never had. However, that being said , if it continues to be less and less convenient and more and more costly it will become less and less used and more likely to get axed altogether. If no one lives on a road anymore they dont plow or maintain it .

  • Bonnie
    December 13, 2013 - 10:46

    I certainly hope those of you who scoff at elderly and/or disabled can appreciate it one day when you are in the same situation. Not everyone has family they can rely on - and many are robbed from their own family to boot. Just because it benefits YOU doesn't mean it will benefit everyone. And in five years seniors will be on the internet? Says who? They can't afford to pay internet on their small pensions - they're lucky to pay for heat. I wouldn't wish ill will on anyone - but those of you on your high horse could use a fall to show how much you may need to rely on another person to help. Let's hope you get it - since you're all so sure these people will.

  • Here's A Thought
    December 13, 2013 - 09:23

    Why not deliver two days a week. That's all anybody REALLY needs.

  • The Furby Crime Gang
    December 13, 2013 - 09:18

    My fear is that morons who steal tens of thousands of dollars from people will have to walk to these places and thus be around these people with disabilities. DEPORT GRANT

  • Have we got it all wrong?
    December 13, 2013 - 07:37

    Perhaps it's not a new business plan Canada Post requires, it's a new set of values. Here's Canada Post's opportunity to prove it can serve Canadians into the next century. How? By adjusting it's services to target specific social needs. For example, charge less to deliver products for registered charities and hospitals . Deliver mail differently to the less than 5% of Canadians that are legally / officially disabled. Perhaps it's time to stop trying to be a business that competes with the profit driven multi-national delivery corporations. Perhaps it's time to be, well, a taxpayer funded Canadian social institution.

  • vick
    December 13, 2013 - 06:11

    Honestly get rid of the carriers Canada wide! Community mailboxes in every neighborhood....get rid of Canada Post ....there is no need for their services anymore! You mailman have done this to yourselves along with your greedy UNION.....I am not delivering mail to that house because of spiderwebs, dogs, snow, ice, etc...the list goes make twice what the average tax payer makes an hr...time to move on community mailboxes and internet will replace you just fine!

    • Aunty Ranty
      December 13, 2013 - 15:04

      Hey Vick, lighten up! Have you seen the size of some of them spiders out there?

  • Young whipper snapper
    December 13, 2013 - 00:52

    Being part of the younger generation everything is delivered via email now. Most companies have now gone paperless and cheques can be direct deposited into bank accounts. Sure, maybe the days before the internet Bob the mailman would go around greeting everyone on his route but those days are over. Just like pensions and veterans, the Federal government seems to be losing interest in the elderly. If the Federal government can reduce their cost per household for delivery by 61% then I don't think they are going to care if your mother is worried she may 'take a tumble.'

  • Just an Islander
    December 12, 2013 - 20:55

    I mean you have 5 years to adapt.....if you can't, friends and family and worst case entrepreneurs will come to the rescue, snail mail is dying and I don't want to see tax payers propping up a dying system. I say end rural as well, I have no problem picking up my mail once a week at a nearby post office, all I ask is that I can pick which one. I live half way between Montague and Charlottetown and that is where I would want to get my mail, the little I receive, I work in Charlottetown so that is what makes sense. As long as people can choose which PO suits them the best than great. I have several elderly family members, if they want to sign the card to allow me to pick up their mail on their behalf I will gladly drop it off for them, it will allow them to visit myself and my daughter (3rd generation to them) for a little bit each week, something they do not get now. Another 5 years or so, outside of parcels which are typically delivered to your door by courier, since Puralotor and the competition are typically cheaper, there will be no mail to deliver anyway, as everything is going electronic. Another 5 years or so, most elderly will be on the internet bandwagon as far as I can see. I would like to see basic, no frills internet offered for free(included in phone bill) so low income can become connected (I believe route 2 already offers free no frills internet?), these would be capped accounts, but allow basic email and web browsing. This I feel is the direction we are headed! If not 5 years, I guarantee you that in 10 we will be there.