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End to home mail delivery and hikes to stamp prices raises concerns

In the next five years, all communities receiving home delivery will be switched to community mail boxes, including Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam. Canada Post is transitioning to the new delivery system to save costs. - CANADA POST PHOTO
In the next five years, all communities receiving home delivery will be switched to community mail boxes, including Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam. Canada Post is transitioning to the new delivery system to save costs.
— image credit: CANADA POST PHOTO

Purchasing stamps will get more expensive and home mail delivery will cease, raising concerns about the impact of Canada Post changes on low-income people, seniors and even small businesses in the Tri-Cities.

Martin Wyant, executive director of Share Family and Community Services, says he expects sending letters to donors will get more expensive and will result in higher administration costs for the organization that runs the food bank, seniors programs and support for children and families.

"It's the latest in a number of significant increases we're all going to have to think about," Wyant said, citing BC Hydro rate increases as another concern for people struggling on low incomes.

Seniors or families without access to the internet may be hardest hit because they can't easily switch to online delivery for bills.

However, Canada Post says mail delivery has significantly dropped as more people switch to online services. In fact, fewer people using the mail service is one of the reasons Canada Post is changing its postal service and raising the price of stamps.

A billion fewer pieces of mail were delivered last year compared to 2006 – as households shift to online bill payments and other digital communication.

The price of stamps will also go up from 63 to 85 cents each if bought in booklets, or $1 for individual stamps. Discounts for businesses that rely on the mail may be available, but Wyant said small business owners could be affected by the change to take place in March, 2014.

The switch to community mail boxes in older neighbourhoods that don't have them will be phased in over five years, according to Canada Post.

Wyant is concerned about the security of community mail boxes because Share receives a lot of confidential mail as well as cash from donors.

SECURITY A CONCERN

"We'll really have to take a look at this, we get confidential mail constantly. It's not just money, it's correspondence, memos from governments, agreements, you name it. We're certainly going to be looking at what we put in place."

Canada Post assures residents that the new community mail boxes — which will be established in older (pre-1980-1990) neighbourhoods of single family homes that don't currently have them — will be secure.

Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew, meanwhile, has mixed feelings about the change.

He said Canada Post has hardened the community boxes somewhat with anti-pry devices so they are less vulnerable to theft.

"It's not as bad as it was," he said, but added mail theft from the boxes remains a continuing problem throughout the Tri-Cities.

"If somebody's determined, they're going to get in."

Drew said the complete transition away from door-to-door home delivery was predictable and inevitable.

"Home delivery people really been subsidized by the other two thirds of the Canadian public in terms of the cost of the system."

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore already gets his mail delivered to a community mail box but acknowledges that older people in older homes in PoCo may have accessibility issues and he is concerned. But he's just as concerned about what he perceives is a lack of consultation from Canada Post.

The Crown corporation says it did consult communities across Canada about their mail service habits and other issues. But Moore said he never heard about it, nor was the city consulted when Canada Post decided to charge $250 for every new home to cover the cost of community mail boxes.

"To just arbitrarily to come up with that without any engagement," Moore said, adding that it seems unreasonable. "Those are pretty expensive mail boxes," he said.

Moore said raising the price of stamps and ending home-delivery is a double whammy, especially for older people in established neighbourhoods who still use the mail system.

"They bought into their neighborhood 40 years ago and they are still living in it. Maybe they don't have the same accessibility," Moore said.

UNION CONCERNED

The union representing thousands of Canadian union members has pledged a campaign against the cuts.

Jerry Dias, Unifor National president, said in a statement that senior citizens and many other Canadians depend on door-to-door delivery.

He promised Unifor's support for community groups, seniors' organizations, municipalities, and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in their efforts to stop changes to the postal service.

"Access to affordable, accessible postal services, no matter where you live or how mobile you are, is an important democratic right. Canada Post is not a business, it is a public service.  There is no economic justification for these dramatic cutbacks, it's just another dimension of needless austerity," Dias said.

— with files from Jeff Nagel, Black Press

 

 

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