Canada Post suspension of delivery may mean DTES folks miss checks

DTES resident advocates say they are being discriminated against by Canada Post’s decision to suspend delivery due to carrier safety concerns.

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Residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside could go without their next government checks due in two weeks because Canada Post halted mail service two blocks from East Hastings Street because carriers said they feared for their safety.

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“If they (residents) are on welfare or disability benefits, they would have no way to get their checks” on April 27, the day the next welfare checks are due, a said local residents’ advocate Brittany Graham, executive director of the Vancouver Area Addictions Network.

The lack of postal service “is having immediate repercussions and causing real harm” to residents who rely on government checks or gifts from loved ones to pay rent or meet other expenses, Anna Cooper said. lawyer for the Pivot Legal Society.

Canada Post suspended delivery service on March 23 for blocks 000 and 100 of East Hastings due to carriers’ “health and safety concerns” but, in a statement emailed Thursday, declined to clarify concerns.

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Mail delivery “cannot come at the expense of worker health and safety,” Canadian Union of Postal Workers National President Jan Simpson said in an email. But she also declined to give details.

While Canada Post is working on a permanent solution, she said customers have been told they can pick up mail from a Canada Post office two kilometers away, which is worrying businesses as well as residents.

“We used to have all our bills delivered and if something happened in the neighborhood the notices would come in the mail, and now we don’t,” said Ahmed Nasser, manager of 50 Cents convenience store. in the 000. block of East Hastings.

Residents who no longer receive mail face discrimination under B.C.’s human rights code because of where they live, Cooper said.

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“Canada Post has cut people’s basic means of delivery without notice” and is requiring them to walk 14 blocks to collect their mail, she said. “The rest of us don’t have to walk 14 blocks to get our mail and they shouldn’t have to either.”

Graham said some residents don’t have the necessary government-issued ID to pick up their mail and it’s a long and complex process to get ID.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart was not available Thursday to comment on the suspension of mail services specifically or the issue of community safety in general, but released a statement saying the change is temporary and the city is working on a solution.

Vancouver County Rebecca Bligh said the city is working on an interim solution to eventually bring the mail pickup location closer to where residents live. She also said she wanted to know if there was “a specific incident that triggered” the service suspension.

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Vancouver police are “not aware of any reports made by Canada Post employees,” spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin said in an email Thursday.

In a subsequent press release, police said they were investigating three ‘completely random and unprovoked’ stabbings with hypodermic needles in the DTES in the past six months, each unrelated to the others. .

In the third assault, at 6:45 a.m. Sunday, a man was stabbed in the leg by a man holding a needle near Hastings and Columbia streets, Visintin said. It’s in block 100, where Canada Post has suspended delivery.

Around noon on Thursday, the sidewalks of the two-block stretch of East Hastings were full of people walking and socializing. Some had pitched tents, others were selling items on the sidewalk, and there were signs of open drug use.

Graham said area residents had few places to congregate because there were few benches or parks within the 10-block radius of the DTES. Many SROs have policies that prohibit guests, and since there are few supervised use sites like the one run by the Overdose Prevention Society, it is safer for people to use with others in public areas. than alone in their room, she said.

People in the community treat others with respect and “it’s a misconception that the Downtown Eastside is a dangerous area,” she said.

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