Canada Post says it is confident that its plan to secure postal service for all Canadians, including those with disabilities or mobility issues, will withstand any and all legal scrutiny.
The Crown Corporation released the statement yesterday after the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, along with groups representing seniors and the disabled, announced they are launching a Federal Court challenge.
“The reaction was immediate from every part of this country,” said Denis Lemelin, the union’s national president, at a press conference in Ottawa Thursday. ”Today we want to thank the people of this country, because people care about the postal service,” he said. “Postal service is here to stay,” he said, vowing to maintain a “public post office” as well as home delivery. The challenge has been finalized and could be filed in Federal Court “within the week,” constitutional lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo told the press conference.
Other applicants are still deciding whether to join the case. After the challenge has been filed, an injunction could stop service reductions until the court rules. The case will argue:
- The elimination of mail delivery violates Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees equality rights for groups like disabled citizens.
- The decision violates the federal Human Rights Act because of its effects on employees and vulnerable citizens without prior consultation.
- Canada Post did not have the authority to declare it will no longer perform a public service that’s defined as part of the statutory monopoly it enjoys. Only the Parliament of Canada can take this decision.
- Canada has contravened its international law obligations, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires all states to provide accessible public services, and the Universal Postal Union obligations, which require all states to provide
While two thirds of Canadian households do not receive mail delivery to the door, making the decision to transition the remaining one third of households to community mailboxes was difficult, Canada Post states in a press release. “Digital alternatives are rapidly replacing traditional mail and that trend will accelerate. As a result, people are using Canada Post differently than they have in past years,” the release continues.
“In 2013, Canadians mailed almost 1.2 billion fewer pieces of mail than they did in 2006. The changes being made are necessary to secure the future of postal service in Canada and avoid becoming a burden on the taxpayers.”
The National Pensioners Federation, which says it represents 350 seniors groups and over a million Canadians, has joined the challenge because it wants to reverse what it says is a trend of erosion of services. Mail delivery, it says, is important to help seniors stay in their homes for as long as possible.
The Crown corporation says it remains committed to ensuring the right approach is taken and no one is left behind.
“All Canadians must have access to the postal service,” states Canada Post.
“The company also has in place a robust accommodations program based on best practices developed and utilized by municipalities, provinces and federal institutions,” the release adds. “In addition, Canada Post spent months talking with human rights experts and regional and national organizations with extensive expertise in the field of accommodation to ensure the Corporation was taking the best approach.”
Overall, Canada Post says changing the way it delivers the mail across the country will help secure postal service for all Canadians.