Canada Post to ask for doctor's note to keep home mail delivery
Published Thursday, August 14, 2014 8:56AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 14, 2014 10:46PM EDT
Canada Post says customers who want to continue receiving home delivery because they expect to be unable to access their mail from community mailboxes will require a doctor’s note.
But the agency expects few customers will need such notes, because other solutions can be found to accommodate their needs.
Canada Post announced last December it would be phasing out home delivery over the next five years to the one-third of Canadian households that still get their mail delivered to their home.
The decision leaves people like Allen Mankewich in a tough spot.
“It impacts people with disabilities’ right to self-determination,” Mankewich, who uses a wheelchair, told CTV News. “For someone like me, it's going to make it very difficult to get my mail.”
The agency says it understands that some people, such as seniors and those with disabilities, face challenges with community mailboxes. That's why, it says, it's mailing out questionnaires to people who have informed them they require assistance when their neighbourhood is transitioned to the new boxes.
Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton says customized solutions are found in most cases.
"We talked to experts in many fields of mobility and disability issues and what they've told us loud and clear is, 'You need to be able to tailor the solutions to every individual circumstance'," he told CTVNews.ca.
Hamilton says some customers have no problem getting to a community box, but have trouble getting the mail out.
"So we might be able to give an extra key to a caregiver. Or we might offer a key aid if it's a dexterity issue or arthritis. Or we can put a tray in the box to make it easier to pull out the mail, rather than having to reach in," he said.
Those in wheelchairs can be assigned boxes on lower rows, while those who have trouble bending can be assigned boxes higher up.
For those who will have trouble getting to the community mailbox, he says mail can be redirected to a post office near a shopping mall where the person goes on a regular basis, or mail can be redirected to a family member.
"Or we may visit the idea of delivering the mail five days a week to the community box and then once a week, clearing it out and delivering it to the door," Hamilton said.
For that solution, customers would need to send in a note from their health care provider explaining their circumstances – a policy Louis Hugo Francescutti, the president of the Canadian Medical Association, describes as problematic.
“Let's say you have a severe form of some mental illness that doesn't allow you to get out,” he said. “Do you want Canada Post to know that you're suffering from this?”
He also said the requirement could be expensive to some people, with a doctor’s note costing between $40 and $100, depending on the province. But while Francescutti says the policy caught the CMA off-guard, Hamilton says the doctor's note requirement is not unusual.
"We put that in place after looking at other accommodation programs among many levels of government… Asking for a doctor's note is pretty commonplace when you look at other assistance or accommodation programs," he said.
Hamilton says Canada Post has found solutions for people with difficulty accessing community mailboxes for the last 30 years. He says the percentage of customers who require them is relatively small, and the associated costs -- which Canada Post bears -- are also small.
"Yes, there are costs associated with it. But we're in the business of making sure people can access their mail and that's part of our commitment," he said.