Is Mail Delivery to Rural Canada a Thing of the Past.
Monday January 15th 2007, 11:34 am

Is it really a serious question of safety or is Canada Post trying to save money on rural mail delivery in Canada? There is a large ad in today’s newspaper advising that due to increased traffic volumes, mail delivery in some rural mailboxes is potentially hazardous for mail carriers. Canada Post is in the process of assessing the safety of all 843,000 rural mailboxes over the next three to four years at a cost of $11.5 million a year. They advise that they are “committed to ensuring the safety of it’s employees, customers and the motoring public”.

Canada Post advised that they have had hundreds of complaints from rural postal drivers about poor roads and about the risk of repetitive strain injury when the drivers reach from their cars to put mail into the rural mail boxes. If Canada Post gets it’s way, most of the rural delivery will be replaced by Community Mailboxes and these postal drivers, who are contractors and not employees of Canada Post, will be without a job, as most of them will no longer be needed. Canada Post advised that converting customers to a centralized delivery site will not save them money because it is costly for them to make the switch. Obviously, it will be more costly at the beginning, but they will definitely save a lot of money in the long run. Saving money is the reason for the Super Mailboxes, which are the only mail delivery available in areas built in the past 15 years or so.

Rural residents in Nova Scotia have complained that their mail delivery was cut off with little notice and no consultation. We have a rural mail box at our summer cottage. The only mail we receive there is a community newspaper called Lisa’s Web, which we look forward to reading, so we will know about community events. In early September, we received a notice from Canada Post advising that our mail would be discontinued because the gravel on the shoulder in front of our cottage had to be brought up to the same level as the highway. The next week, we received a second notice which advised that because this safety hazard had not been fixed, our mail delivery was now cutoff. We always take our mailbox down when we close the cottage for the season at the end of October, so we didn’t pursue it.

The gravel at the side of the highway is the responsibility of the Dept. of Highways and not the residents. Many people who live year round on this highway, received the same notice from Canada Post. Many of these people are senior citizens who find it very difficult to pick up their mail from a Community Mailbox, which are usually several kms. from their homes. They also would have difficulty dealing with the bureaucracy at the Dept. of Highways, to fix the gravel problem, or Canada Post. The road in front of our cottage is in very bad shape and hasn’t been paved in over 50 years, so lots of luck trying to get some gravel. The problem was made worse because the Highway Department patched some of the asphalt on the side of the highway, which made the highway higher than the shoulder. It is too bad that Canada Post couldn’t deal directly with the Provincial government to make the sides of the highways safer.

In our case, we don’t have to move our mail box from it’s present position, only ensure that the gravel shoulder has more gravel on it. I will be contacting the Dept. of Highways in April, and I know I will have to continue calling them to ensure they do the job, before we open the cottage in May. If we can’t get mail delivery in front of the cottage, it will be inconvenient, but not as much as it is for people who live there full time.

I consider myself fortunate that I have mail delivery to my door at home. I don’t live in a newer neighbourhood, where they must pick up their mail at those Super Mailboxes. You don’t miss something you have never had, so for these people, it is a fact of life to not have home mail delivery. For rural seniors, who have had delivery for generations, it will be a great inconvenience.

Anne