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Canada Post Boss To Seniors: The Walk To Your Community Mail Box Will Be Good For Your Health

An article from the National Post

The head of Canada Post has raised eyebrows after suggesting seniors could benefit from the elimination of door-to-door delivery because they would get more exercise walking to community mailboxes.

Canada Post president and CEO Deepak Chopra told the House of Commons transport committee Wednesday that his Crown corporation needs to start implementing its controversial plan immediately or risk losing millions of dollars a day.

“We have no time to waste, and we must act now and act with a sense of urgency,” he told the committee in his first public appearance since Canada Post announced last week it would end door-to-door delivery, hike the cost of stamps and reduce the size of its work force over the next five years.

Chopra brushed off questions that elimination of door-to-door delivery would disproportionately hurt seniors and instead suggested regular walks to community mailboxes might actually do them some good.

“Seniors are telling me that ‘I want to be healthy, I want to be active in my life,’” Chopra said.

Liberal MP David McGuinty said the seniors he talks to are more concerned about living independently, which could be made difficult by daily trips beyond their doors for mail.

Canadians with disabilities, postal workers and representatives from small businesses also expressed concerns with Canada Post’s plans and told the committee that the proposed service changes should not be rolled out as planned.

“This is a major radical move that is being contemplated by Canada Post and clearly they need to be reined in,” said NDP MP Paul Dewar after hearing the testimony of concerned stakeholders.

The House of Commons rose for Christmas break the day before Canada Post rolled out its five-year plan on Dec. 11, but transport committee chair Larry Miller, an Ontario Conservative, called an emergency meeting so MPs could discuss the plan.

A Conservative motion passed by the party’s majority on the committee invited Chopra, the postal union, postal experts and representatives from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities to share their views on Canada Post’s plan with members of Parliament for three hours on Wednesday.

The NDP, who put forward a motion for an in-depth study on the plan that would include hearing from Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, said the study proposed by the Conservatives is not enough.

“We have not heard from charitable organizations, we need to hear from them. We have not heard from the minister herself and we need to hear from Minister Raitt. And we need to hear from more Canadians who are deeply concerned about this,” Dewar told reporters after the meeting.

McGuinty agreed that Raitt needs to address the committee before Canada Post begins implementing its plan in the new year.

“I’m very, very shocked that the minister responsible for this corporation didn’t see fit to make herself present today and answer questions,” he said.

One of the most contentious issues debated at the meeting was the end of door-to-door delivery for 5.1 million urban Canadians.

Postal union leader Denis Lemelin, who wants to see Canada Post become self-sufficient through the expansion of its services into areas like postal banking, vowed that “for the people who had delivery at the door, it’s part of their history and we will fight to keep it.”

Bob Brown, who appeared before the committee on behalf of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, added that the elimination of door-to-door delivery will make mail inaccessible to many Canadians.

“Communal mailbox delivery is inaccessible to those with mobility or vision impairments and will make people with disabilities more dependent upon family and friends to pick up their mail for them,” he said.

Brown also pointed out that people with disabilities face a higher rate of poverty than Canadians as a whole and are less likely to have access to the Internet, which means the increase in stamp prices coming in March will disproportionately affect this group.

“A dollar stamp is fairly significant for a lot of people,” he said.