Sunday, July 30, 2006

Census 2006 - The headhunt continues

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:

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.
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?

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"?

"Yes, but...."

"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.

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."
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if they will be sending a team of those census terrorist over to south Lebanon to get a count on how many Canadians are still living there. They seemed to be real surprised to find out a group of Canadians, larger than the populations of Tavistock and Godrich put together, needed to be evacuated of late.

Anonymous said...

Hey Honey - it is good work indeed.. and helps us to realize there are about 1.5 million of those awful Canadians living in California right now - what are we gonna do when the "big one" occurs there.

Sky Captain said...

Hey Lisa-Yeeeehawww!

Gordon Pasha said...

"Thank you for helping us assist you". - Translation: You may raise your trousers now.

I must admit that I buckled and filled out a paper form after receiving the threatening notices, mainly because I had other, more pressing issues to deal with at the time. I even went so far as to call the Enumeration bozos, because their street-walkers had neglected to leave me the info on where to mail the damned thing.

Of course, you are absolutely right; if StatsCan were really so incompetent that they couldn't come up with a statistically meaningful analysis of the Canadain population based on all the info they already have, then really, it would be a hopeles organization. Oh, wait ...

The whole census scheme is a(nother) govt make-work thing. People who are collecting (faulty) data on the citizenry, answering telephones so they can tell us "thankyou for wasting your time so we can be employed answering telephones", and busy mailing threats and hanging out in front of our doors, waiting to issue papers, are people who are not on the unemployment or welfare roles (or maybe I am being too optimistic about that bit, i suspect lots of them are, in fact on the UI and welfare roles). And what better way to demonstrate the glorious and enduring victory of multicultiness than to recruit non-English speaking New(TM) Canadians to threaten us?

C'mon, Lisa, achieve true peace, submit! You know that resistance is futile. ;)

/rant off

Sky Captain said...

Well,Lisa,you can thrash your Stetson in the air as you ride the bomb down,or-if you fold-you can find someone on the web who can fill it out for you.
Oh,I meant, in perfect Klingon.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this harassment. I figured Canada could re-distribute (read: steal) its wealth an easier way.

Anonymous said...

Gawd, I'm thankful for people like you. I tried to resist, I really did. I initially had a census guy come to my door to give me my forms. He asked me my name. I gave him my first name and watched him write it down and wait for my second name. I just stood there. Then he asked, and again, I gave him my first name. He said, "I need your last name." "Why do you need that?" "Because there's a spot on this form for it". "Oh. Well I don't think you need it, so you'll just have to do with my first name" "... o...kay... What's your phone number?" "Sorry, but that's unlisted, I never give it out." "But I need it, they ask for it" "I don't give out my phone number" "...all...right... How many people live here?" "Isn't that a question on the census form that you want me to mail in?" "Well, yes, but they want it here too" "I don't need to give it to you, becuase it'll be on the form, and that should be sufficient". Poor guy was just doing his job I guess, and I think I've seen him around the neighbourhood...

One day, after I missed the deadline, the door bell rang, I saw it was the same gentleman, so I went and sat back down on the chesterfield while he rang every few minutes for about 10 minutes... and left me one of those anoying notices.. "you may pay a fine or go to jail, but it's not too late!" I ignored it. Eventually he came back and left another while I had a cup of tea on the chesterfield. Eventually they put another person on my case, and told another house occupant they would be back the next day. I hate to say it, but about 2 weeks ago I gave up. I was going to send in a little note in the census envelope asking, "It's not too late yet. Thanks. Please tell me when it WILL be too late."

But I caved.

Instead, I submitted my messy copy on the French form that they will have to manually key into their computer. The bar code will not be readable with my addition lines in India ink. I had a difficult time reading the French, and my answers at time reflect my illiteracy with the belle language. I can't believe I caved though. I was having so much fun with them.. but when they sent the new person after me, I didn't like the prospect of going to jail over it. If I were on my own, then maybe I would have resisted to the end... but there's more than one of us that would have to go to jail. Which household member WOULD they put in jail? All who refuse? Or only one as a symbolic figure head?

Anyway, thank God for people like you.

The Atavist said...

Years ago, I got one of those pesky business census thingies that would have taken a crew of thousands to fill out. I looked it over and concluded that none of what was being asked was anyone's business, so I trashed the form. After the due date, I got all the usual stuff -- reminders, calls, veiled threats of what could happen if I didn't co-operate. I always listened politely, but never actually followed up by filling in the form and mailing it. Finally (I can't remember how many weekes or months had gone by) I got yet another telephone call that seemed to me to be crossing the line of polite discourse, so I told the party who called that I would reserve a desk for an appointee of their choice, open all of our files and records to him or her, and co-operate in every way I could -- except by actually filling out the form for them. Of course, they declined to accept my offer. They prefer that the business owner or the individual do all the work, give away information which might best have been kept private, and then bow deeply in express gratitude for being allowed to 'contribute' to society.

Guess what happened after that rather tense telephone call? Nothing. No more letters, no more calls. I don't recommend this approach unless you are willing to accept the consequences, though. Lisa... you are my hero. You have bigger cojones (figuratively speaking of course) than... well, just about anyone. Kudos to you.

Anonymous said...

I don't like annoying telephone solicitors or government people calling while I am at dinner, and have enough respect for the environment no to want a vast amount of paper waste (AKA notices) blowing across my lawn, so I filled the census in right away.

Of course I used a method similar to the game I employ with several friends using our Airmiles cards: we trade cards all the time so our market profiles are worthless (and we can still collect rewards!).

This time around I was already prepared to move to be closer to my job, so the possibility of them ever finding me to verify "my" information is about nil. Since it is joining a similarly corrupt data pool, it really makes no difference anyway.

As far as finding reasonably reliable and up to date information, the governemnt only has to start downloading their tax files. Given the monetary value represented in tax returns, they have every incentive to ensure these are, in fact, accurate and up to date, without having to spend any extra money on a separate form.

Anonymous said...

I didn't fill mine out. I got my bags packed in hopes they will coming soon to take me away to club fed. I didn't get anything in the mail saying I had to fill it out, or else. I sent them a letter today to remind them I didn't fill it out. I hope that speeds up my incarceration. I need a good long vacation. I am sick of working everyday for a living.

jomama said...

It's simple. Just ignore 'em all, the long, the short and the tall.

Give each and every goon nothing.

You can do it.