Postal workers want home delivery restored

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The Canadian Union of Postal Workers hasn’t given up on restoring door-to-door mail delivery in St. Albert.

CUPW Edmonton president Nancy Dodsworth was at city council recently to ask council to support the recommendations that came out of a recent postal review conducted by the standing committee on government operations and estimates.

The restoration of door-to-door mail delivery became an issue in the last federal election, prompting the Liberal government to call a review of the postal service once they took office.

After hearing testimony and holding consultations across the country in fall 2016, the committee released a report with 45 recommendations. This includes continuing the moratorium on community mailbox conversion and reinstating door-to-door delivery for communities converted after Aug. 3, 2015 – the day the federal election was called. St. Albert’s conversion went live Aug. 17, 2015.

The report concluded that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work, especially when it comes to seniors, people with disabilities and people with limited mobility.

The postal review is expected to come before the House of Commons within the next month. Dodsworth asked council to send a resolution to minister of public services and procurement Judy Foote in support of the recommendations, saying she has heard from residents who want to see home delivery service restored.

Dodsworth told council that a poll conducted by Stratcom for CUPW found 21.3 per cent (106) of respondents experienced an accident, such as a slip or fall, while using a community mailbox and that 8.5 per cent (nine) of them required medical attention.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors and are exacerbated during the winter months. In 2013-2014, more than 10,000 Canadians were hospitalized due to falls on ice. More than half of those hospitalized were aged 60 and older.

Canada is the first developed country to end home delivery of mail, so very few peer-reviewed studies exist on how the conversion might affect fall rates among seniors, people with disabilities and people with limited mobility.

A literature review conducted by the University of Waterloo, in conjunction with CUPW, took a look at a study of slip, trip and fall accidents among postal workers in the U.K. that showed the majority of slipping accidents occurred on ice (46 per cent).

Researchers concluded that the experience of these postal workers had the potential to translate to older adults in Canada retrieving their mail from community mailboxes. Further studies are underway at the university, as well as at Carleton University and the University of Saskatchewan.

Mayor Nolan Crouse said he was “caught off guard” by the presentation.

“I haven’t received anything negative over the past year,” he said. “If Canada Post is hearing something… I’m not hearing anything in the mayor’s office.”

Coun. Bob Russell applauded the presentation and said he has watched neighbours slip and fall during icy conditions.

Another recommendation calls for the preservation of post offices, such as the downtown St. Albert location, even in areas with franchise postal outlets.

“St. Albert downtown post office was slated to be closed last year and we fought back,” said Dodsworth. “That’s how we know that St. Albert has a voice that’s heard across the country.”

While the post office is safe for now, she added, it could come under review for closure again in the future without a change in policy.

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Michelle Ferguson