Advocate calls Canada Post delivery suspension on Downtown Eastside ‘inequitable’

An advocate in the Downtown Eastside says Canada Post’s decision to temporarily suspended service to part of the area, without warning or consultation, is inequitable and inconsiderate.

Concerns over the health and safety of Canada Post workers have prompted the Crown corporation to suspend mail delivery to homes and businesses for two blocks on East Hastings between Carrall and Main streets.

Nicole Mucci with the Union Gospel Mission admits the area has some unique challenges but none that warrant halting mail delivery to homes and businesses with no end in sight.

“We understand that there’s a desire to keep their staff safe. But there is an entire neighbourhood and community of folks who live their day-to-day life feeling relatively safe, going about their business,” she told CityNews. “There are businesses, there are families with young children, there are folks who are simply surviving, and many of them come and go and feel safe … It’s as unsafe there as it is in almost any other neighbourhood.”

Mucci says the community along East Hastings between Carrall and Main can only access their mail by picking it up blocks away during a limited time window which is very challenging for many.

“If you have any type of physical impairment that makes it difficult to walk, that makes it difficult to get around, being asked to go 12 blocks simply to get your mail, it feels like an insurmountable marathon you’re being asked to do,” she explains.

Related Article: Canada Post suspends mail delivery on Downtown Eastside due to safety concerns

People living in the area who are already marginalized and live with a physical disability, mental health issues, addiction, are in recovery or are on income assistance will have an added layer of challenges and an “inequitable situation for an entire neighbourhood of people” Mucci says.

Those who are working regular hours during the week will also face challenges since they won’t have a lot of time to pick up their mail, Mucci adds.

“They might have to ask for time off just to get their mail and then lose income as a result of that. And that’s difficult when you look at the fact that so many people living within the Downtown Eastside are along the poverty line. They’re already struggling to make ends meet. So that is really hard.”

Six months ago, early in the pandemic, Canada Post suspended its operations in the area. So Mucci points out this is not the first time people in the area have been put in this “disastrous” situation.

She adds that what is particularly frustrating is that Canada Post did not consult the public about the impact that the disruptions could have.

“When we’re looking at what is the long term solution here, it’s not [about] isolating a community, it’s not cutting people off from a service that they need, it’s coming into the community and finding out how you can be woven into the tapestry in a way that makes you feel like you’re a part of it.”

Mucci adds she is also concerned about additionally stigmatizing a neighbourhood calling it ‘unjust.’

“When we strip people of services that others can easily access when we deem an entire area unsafe simply because people are experiencing hardship and marginalization, what is happening is we are dehumanizing them, and we are making something unsafe. And that is unfair.”

Canada Post said service stopped at the end of March, and there’s no estimated date when deliveries will resume.

The postal service says it is working to provide a long-term solution.

– With files from Claire Fenton

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