Snow, Ice Among Problems for Residents Accessing New Communal Mailboxes, Survey Finds

May 13, 2015 Updated: May 13, 2015

A new survey of residents in communities that have lost home postal delivery shows respondents reporting difficulty accessing Canada Post’s new community mailboxes due to snow and incidents of slips and falls.

The online survey by Stratcom, commissioned by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), found that 61 percent of people polled experienced problems with access to the mailboxes due to snow.

Respondents also reported difficulty in “access due to frozen locks” (59 percent), and 59 percent reported slipping or falling when they were walking to retrieve mail. Among those who fell, 8.5 percent reported they required medical attention.

I don’t know if it is a majority, but certainly a huge segment of the population are opposed to this or don’t support it.
— Herb John, National Pensioners Federation

“We told Canada Post from the beginning that people wouldn’t be happy,” said CUPW national president Mike Palecek. “Over 1 in 5 have reported a slip or trip. We knew that it was going to be a problem. That was a very high number.”

Canada Post’s five-year plan to offset revenue losses, announced in December 2013, includes the elimination of home delivery for an estimated 5.1 million homeowners, mainly in larger cities.

Continuing its operations the traditional way had become impossible due to reduced mail volumes and rising costs, Canada Post said, noting that Canadians sent almost 1.2 billion fewer pieces of mail in 2013 than in 2006.

The Crown corporation expects the change, which includes cutting thousands of jobs, will save $500 million annually.

The CUPW poll surveyed 497 people in the 25 areas that lost their door-to-door service in 2014.

Herb John, president of the National Pensioners Federation, says his organization has heard many complaints about the change to community mailboxes.

“We are hearing the same thing consistently: people are not happy with this,” he said.

“Any kind of inclement weather, someone waiting for a cheque or something important but can’t get to the mail box—it is going to be stressful.”

CUPW and the National Pensioners Federation, along with the Disabled Women’s Network of Canada launched a court challenge last month, alleging the move to end home delivery is a violation of Canada Post legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights.

“My biggest problem with this is: What is the reason behind this? They are using a small window of financial loss to justify doing this,” John said.

“I don’t know if it is a majority, but certainly a huge segment of the population are opposed to this or don’t support it. So what is the real reason for proceeding with this when there isn’t support from the people or a financial reason to do it?”

John noted that other G8 countries aren’t dropping home delivery, and “feel it is an important enough service to maintain.

Kaven Baker-Voakes is a freelance reporter based in Ottawa.