An accessibility problem in Chesterville

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Accessibility is law. In fact, in many workplaces, employees must receive training regarding the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) when they are hired. Discrimination is certainly not something we tolerate in Canada, and we would never dream of showing bias against someone due to their race or sexual orientation. Why then, would we ever be okay with making it more difficult for differently abled people to access their mail?

The Canada Post location in Chesterville does not have a push-to-open switch for its outside door. This became apparent when a Chesterville local made a social media post last week, reassuring her neighbours that she had put in a request with Canada Post for such a button to be added to the local post office. The resident notes in her post that she was told that her request would have to go before a “committee” to be decided. She also notes that the post office staff are “wonderful”, a fact which the Times staff can confirm is true not just for staff in Chesterville, but for all North Dundas locations. 

The staff may be great, but the accessibility policies leave much to be desired. What federal government committee would ever decide against accessible mail as a basic human right? The logical answer is “none”, and therefore it seems odd to need a committee to make the decision in the first place. The Chesterville post office already has a ramp; it seems like an embarrassing oversight that a push-to-open button is not already installed in 2024. 

A few months ago, the Times asked readers “Is North Dundas accessible enough?” on the front page. The community “buzz” seemed to firmly point toward the answer being “no”, with many businesses operating out of older buildings, where the costs for upgrades would go far beyond a simple push-to-open system and would instead have to include the construction of new ramps, and maybe even moving fixtures around. These costs are not practical for most small business owners. The discussion at the time also identified easier fixes for things such as certain types of doormats that are hard to roll across in a wheelchair, for example. 

It is easy to sympathize with small businesses who barely have the financial resources to stay open even without spending thousands of dollars constructing ramps or installing push-to-open systems. But a federally-run post office? In 2024? When the ramp already exists? The federal budget is worth tens of billions of dollars. It stands to reason that a push-to-open button would not break the bank, and is more than worth it considering it’s a human rights issue. 

Canada Post’s corporate office was contacted with some to-the-point questions about its accessibility policies and decision making process, but no answer was received by deadline. Any updates will be shared in the next issue. The Chesterville post office will likely get its push-to-open button sooner or later. And the differently abled people of Chesterville deserve nothing less. 

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