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Local seniors shocked by Canada Post plans

The Burnaby Seniors Outreach Services Society was holding a year-end luncheon for its senior peer counsellors when its program director, Linda Comba, asked what they thought of Canada Post's plans to end door-to-door mail delivery within five years.

"Some of their comments aren't printable," Comba said, adding a "wave of horror" went through the group.

"They understand the financial side of it but they do see the impact on seniors, particularly seniors who are maybe more frail," she said. "Getting to a community mailbox would be difficult, and [carrying] parcels back home would be particularly difficult."

Pedestrian safety would become an even greater issue, especially for seniors. "What would have happened the last couple of days when it's been so icy? … It would mean they would be even more isolated than they are."

Seniors might not want to burden someone else by asking for their mail to be picked up for them, and if they do ask, there would be a loss of privacy.

While some seniors are computer savvy, many aren't and don't have access to the Internet to pay their bills, she said. And there's the fear of mail being more susceptible to theft when they're deposited in community mailboxes.

There would be the loss of intangible benefits, she said, such as postal carriers putting more eyes on the street, being around to see if someone needs help in an emergency.

"Especially now when people don't know their neighbours as well. It may be a small but very important role that is played in the community, especially for seniors who … don't have a lot of people contacting them."

The proposed price increase for postage—from the current 63 cents to 85 cents per stamp if bought in booklets or rolls, to $1 for individual stamps—will also be a blow to non-profit and charitable groups such as the society, she noted.

The planned change is a great concern to people with disabilities, said Burnaby resident Craig Langston, past-president of the Cerebral Palsy Association of B.C.

People would be putting themselves at risk to get their mail, especially in the winter months, he said. For people with mobility issues, going a block or two to a community mailbox would be a challenge.

Langston sits on Burnaby planning department's access advisory committee and lives in a Metrotown-area apartment so would not be directly affected by the change. However, as someone who uses a wheelchair and has a home support worker, he can see the problems that could be created by it.

"If I had to go outside [in the rain] to get my mail, and if I get wet, I have to wait two or three hours in wet clothes before my next worker comes," he said. "Some people only have [support worker] service once a day."

He was "a bit angry" at the announcement, which was made on the last day the House of Commons sits before the six-week Christmas break. "The Opposition can't even question the government on it until late January."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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