Thank you to the members of Parliament and the committee members for inviting me here today to present the views of people with disabilities in Prince Edward Island in regard to Canada Post. I'd also like to briefly recognize that we are in Mi'kmaq territory, our first nations people here. We honour them for allowing us to be here today.
I'm sure you all know and have heard in your consultations across the country that there are just under four million people living with disabilities in Canada. There are just under 4 million people living with disabilities in Canada, or 3.77 million to be precise. It is a huge community of individual Canadians who depend on door-to-door postal service. In article 4 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, under general obligations, it says that no corporations or no state partners will refrain from engaging in acts or participating in things that are inconsistent to the UN convention. We believe, as an organization and as a community, that ending door-to-door service to people with disabilities will be in direct opposition of article 4 of that convention.
We believe that door-to-door service is essential for people with disabilities to enjoy full citizenship in this province and this country. There are four key areas where you see that play out. One is safety. People with disabilities are extremely vulnerable in our communities. They're more vulnerable than an able-bodied Canadian, and you see that twofold for women with disabilities. Crime is increasing at the community mailboxes, especially when we see people approaching on cheque day. There are systematic criminal elements in our society who watch the mailboxes on cheque day, and they watch for people who are particularly vulnerable approaching those mailboxes. Those are the first people who fall victims to crime. They are people with mobility issues and people with hearing impairments. They can't hear somebody coming up behind them. Criminals can steal their cheques, as well as from people with physical impairments who are struggling to work their community mailboxes.
Another key point why we feel that door-to-door service is essential is accessibility. Community mailboxes are placed in communities quickly. There's no consultation with city officials or other individuals. It doesn't appear that universal design principles have been used at all when we look at where they are placed, how they are placed, and the access leading up to them. We all live in this country. We all know what Canada is like in the wintertime, and if you read the Farmers' Almanac, it's going to be another bad one this year. Snow removal, the removal of ice, and the freezing of the boxes can be a problem. I know that a considerable effort was made to look at the design elements so that cool packs wouldn't freeze, but getting access to the mailboxes is a challenge for people with disabilities.
Another thing that happens is that when people are feeling particularly vulnerable, or they feel they can't access their mail, they lose their autonomy and their dignity because they have to reach out to other people to look after getting their mail for them, which opens them up to financial fraud and makes them more vulnerable.
We believe that we should be increasing the services that the post office offers and not decreasing them. We have seen that trend start to happen in a number of countries, such as France, Italy, and Japan. We believe that our local post offices could do banking, process passport applications, supply fishing and hunting licences, and do photo registration. All kinds of different services could be provided in tandem with our local post offices. We also know that our Canadian postal services are the greenest services in the country and are central to doing effective delivery of parcels and reducing CO2 emissions. Our valued postal workers and postal carriers walk those routes five days a week, and they do that in fast and efficiently.
I guess my time is up, but let me just very quickly add that the postal workers are seen as community watch people in our community. They are absolutely the first point of contact for people with disabilities in terms of identifying homes that aren't picking up mail. Maybe there's trouble inside, or a person has fallen and needs help. If we remove that service, we will break that chain of safety.
I believe those are fundamental principles that guide us and make us a great country.