Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Census Boycott Update

I've made good use of my census form as a coaster for my wine bottle since I last posted on my adventures with the census bureau and their bureaubats.

As of today, I've yet to directly encounter the hound entrusted with "my case", and no further threatening notices were left for me since the end of July. It just depends on the census worker I suppose, for unlike other people I know who have decided to boycott the census, I've yet to receive my "final" notice, and so far, my guardian angel has refrained from exaggerated and falsified threats of fines and imprisonment such as the following, submitted to Count me Out by another truant:

Contrary to the aggressive threats of the enumerator, the maximum fine is $500, NOT $5000, and the maximum jail time is 3 months, NOT 6 months. As enumerators in some areas are paid for each form collected and eligible for bonuses, it is not surprising that many of the famished hired for the task of pursuing other impoverished citizens would resort to lies and the heavy arm of the law to collect their portion of the spoils.

The Hamilton Spectator, August 11:
[Director of Statistics Canada's central region Doug] Newson says it's taken "longer than we hoped" this census period for enumerators to visit households where forms are missing, due to the high volume and difficulty hiring enough workers.

"We never really got all the people we needed," Newson says. "It's been an uphill battle."

That's because it's a hot economy and census workers get only $11.88 an hour.

"It was difficult to recruit," Newson said. "Our pay rates were not as competitive as we would like."

Statistics Canada was able to hire only about 15,000 of the 25,000 enumerators it needed across the country.

Financial incentives have also been offered to the SWAT teams, so named because they aggressively blitz an area, trying to wrest a completed form from every non-compliant address.

Many householders, caught at the door, fill out the forms in a few minutes on the spot. Others, as happens in every census, aren't home, have moved, duck the enumerators deliberately or just cannot be found.

On the Civic Holiday last weekend, enumerators in Ontario, including Hamilton, got $60 bonuses for bringing in 20 completed packages a day, up from the average of 12 to 15.
But despite the "dedicated" efforts of a few exemplary enumerators claiming they worked for hours on end, over hundreds of thousands of forms remain to be accounted for. The government blames public apathy, the "SWAT team" blame the government and local governments blame the people for depriving them of more of your cash:
As of quite recently, more than a third of Slave Lake residents had not responded to the federal census. That’s the news that the Town of Slave Lake’s Director of Finance Julia Seppola shared with Town council at council’s Aug. 15 meeting.

It didn’t go over very well.

“With that sort of lack of completion, our numbers could go down!” said Councillor Rob Irwin. Seppola said she heard the information from a Statistics Canada worker, who had visited the Town office looking for help in locating people. The enumerators were apparently going door-to-door trying to fill in the gaps in information submitted by other means.

Seppola also said she had been told that each person is worth $10,000 in government grants. Council immediately started talking about an advertising blitz to get the message out.

But the next morning, a Statistics Canada spokesperson told The Leader that the enumeration of Slave Lake was finished.

“The Town of Slave Lake is complete,” said Sarah Pearson, Communications Officers for the Western Region of StatsCan.

[..] The Town calculates a rough figure of $1,000 per person in the form of federal and provincial grants. If the census misses 100 people, that’s $100,000 the Town doesn’t get for such things as infrastructure and policing. And if they don’t get the money from there, guess where it has to come from?

“It comes down to property taxes,” says Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee. “People need to make that connection.”
Yes, reduce your local tax bill by claiming your household contains 15 Mexicans, and then claim them all as dependents at income tax time to reduce your federal contributions. That justifies the $567 million + spent on the collection of your personal information so long as your social preferences are realized at the expense of the others.

Spreading the dirt over at Dust My Broom