As friends and regular readers may recall, I decided to count myself out and so did not submit my census form by the May 16th deadline. It is now July 27 and many of you have been wondering if the census hounds have been knocking on my door. Well, the saga continues, and yes, the enumerator assigned with "my case" has been around, twice, although they were knocking on the wrong door and ringing the wrong apartment and received no response. That did not stop them from leaving threatening reminder notices.
The first visit was about 5 weeks ago. My friend next door informed me that earlier in the day, he spotted a census person hanging around out front, persistently waiting to speak with an occupant. Wrong door, no answer, so they left another form, with no mailing envelope, along with the above notice and the following letter. A short note was written on the letter, ordering me to please leave my completed form for the enumerator to pick up in a few days time:
I ignored this request, but the second form did work well as an outside dish rag and continues to serve as a handy coaster for my glass of water during global warming. I figured the enumerator would leave another notice for me that same week, but I guess they give Canada Post ample time to deliver your form, should you so choose to send it via snail mail instead of leaving your identity in the mailbox for the enumerator. The weeks passed, and I was starting to think that maybe they forgot about me, or that my enumerator didn't want to bother anymore and so filled the form out on my behalf. Not so. Someone was back this week, ringing the wrong doorbell while I was at work, and they left an urgent overdue notice for me and no dish rag. "DO NOT MAIL - CALL US PLEASE. Thank you for helping us assist you." Note that one of the options available to me is to "report this address as vacant."
If I do run into a census goon, I will be sure to inform them that I am looking after the apartment of a government representative of another country. This option is available as a subsection of STEP B concerning whom to include:
IF THERE IS NO ONE TO INCLUDE IN STEP B:If I tell them I reside at another address, and am merely the cat sitter and have submitted my data elsewhere, by what authority can they ask my name and phone number?
0 - If all persons staying at this address on May 16, 2006, usually live elsewhere in Canada or are visitors or government representatives of another country, mark this circle.
Please print your name and your usual telephone number below. Do not complete this questionnaire.
And what if I sent my form in already, by the deadline at that, and it got lost in the mail or not processed by Census Canada? I decided to call the Census Help Line at 1-877-594-2006 to find out. I strongly encourage all readers to do the same, even if you have submitted your form. Ask lots of question and express your concerns. As was expected, I was put on hold, and a recorded voice informed me that the census line was experiencing higher than normal activity and suggested I call back during non-peak times, between 2-4 pm. The "help line" is available between 8am - 9pm. I decided to hold.
The first representative was very difficult to understand, perhaps a recent Canadian evacutee from Lebanon. I explained that I had submitted my form already, yet I had received threatening notices. Just procedure, I was assured. If I had submitted my form, I had no reason to worry. But I explained that I had submitted my form before the May 16th deadline and so it must have been lost in the post or by Stats Can. I further expressed concern about my privacy, especially considering there was no record of the information I submitted. No problem, just give me your information over the phone here and I will quote you a reference number. But I have already submitted my information, and so fulfilled my obligation. No problem, just provide me with your name, address, phone number, date of birth, marital status, language learned at home and your consent regarding the release of your responses in 2098.
I decided to call back so I could speak to another representative. I was again put on hold. No music was provided to annoy me while I waited, but in both English and French, I was informed that all operators were busy. I almost felt guilty for not calling between 2 and 4 about business not of my own making. This time a young woman answered and I explained my situation, as I had done to the previous guy. This representative was more honest and admitted that because many many forms were submitted at once, some people were not yet accounted for. So why are they sending out the census hounds en masse, shortly after the deadline? It was not likely Canada Post lost my form I was assured. Once again, I was invited to submit my information over the phone. I protested, again expressing concern about my privacy, also insisting I had already fulfilled my "obligation." Finally, I pressed the representative, interrupting her scripted response about internet security.
"So, what you are saying is that if I do not fill out a second form, or provide the information verbally to you or an enumerator, I will be considered to have refused to fill out the census and subsequently charged and faced with $500 in fines and / or three months in jail"?
"Thank you. That is all I really wanted to know. Good-bye".
There is no need to panic, "it's not too late" - yet. In the meantime, job opportunities are still available, especially in Alberta! The census is good for the economy, the environment and the poor!
From a CBC article published earlier in July:
Statistics Canada is considering hiring a small army of out-of-province enumerators to chase down the 250,000 Albertans who haven't filled out census forms.I'm personally "offended" that the cost of rounding up the personal information of individual citizens is $567 million and counting. These tyrants want information to rationalize future redistributions and social schemes, and they want to maintain the illusion of nearly complete compliance because "we" all count and equality is the banner under which our future is engineered. Accuracy is secondary, and these rationalizations, and indeed their conclusions, are already anticipated and do not depend on the truth of the data -- which can be picked, classified, analyzed and induced into conclusions in a myriad of ways to support a claim in the social science field, later to be used as justification for government legislation, but simply on its existence as a supposedly objective and neutral dataset. That it is objective, neutral and true is simply supposed. If Bowel Awareness Week is on the agenda for the next five year plan, expect to be asked how much toilet paper your household uses per week next time around.
Statistics Canada usually collects the information it needs by mid-July, but this year census staff expect to be working into August, knocking on the doors of tardy Albertans.
Spokeswoman Melanie Dixon said it's a combination of more Albertans failing to fill in the forms and not having enough people to fill census jobs thanks to the high employment rate in the province.
There are 500 vacancies in Alberta. Dixon said Statistics Canada will likely bring in hundreds of people from Manitoba and Saskatchewan to fill the spots. That means paying for their transportation and accommodation.
"The longer we go without these forms, we are spending more money, we have more staff costs, and we're out in the field for longer and longer," said Dixon.
[..] Ed McGowan dutifully sent in his census form before the May 16 deadline. He's annoyed enumerators have to chase after other people who can't be bothered.
"Personally, I'm offended that my tax dollars are being spent to call these people individually to do this. What's the harm? It's silly, just fill the damn thing out."
Liars are more highly valued than people who want the government to butt out of their business. Fuck you. I pay taxes and file a yearly tax return, I have a "legal" job, I have a bank account, I have a SIN number, I have a birth certificate, I have a photo health card, I have a drivers licence and a registered license plate, and even a library card. My head has already been counted.