Friday, May 6, 2011

The Mandatory Short Form Census

I was surprised the other day to get this in my mailbox:

Didn't we deal with this already?  Are they using older envelopes?

Power and Politics yesterday had a Tory spokesman saying that the Short Form Census will remain mandatory.

Why the long form but not the short form?

The government has a right to count its citizens I suppose.  I honestly considered just tossing this envelope for threatening me to cooperate or else.

I'm the type of person who likes to fill out surveys.  I know how they are used, and I don't mind the idea that the world is being built with me in mind.  I just hate being threatened.

I hate being reminded that I don't rule in my own home in my own country.

Finally I opened the envelope.  It wants to know who lives here and what languages we speak.  Whats wrong with that really?  No questions about my religion or other personal questions.  Makes me feel a little silly now.  This is a bilingual household and we're keen to preserve our French / English institutions.

I also speak Portuguese.  Perhaps we'll be seeing more refugees from European socialism and could recommend places for them to settle.  We integrate well.

So I'll fill out the Census and send it in because its good for me and good for my community.  I'm not filling it out because of threats.  In fact the threat itself is what bugs me most.  Would Statistics Canada please seek out every other method to get my cooperation?  How about a tax break?  How about a coupon or some other carrot?  Do you have to go right to the threat on the envelope?

To this day, I haven't seen any proof that threats generate better information.  My own reaction is not unique.  If I didn't want something out of this census I would be tempted to enter Klingon or perhaps Whale-song purely out of spite.  Who could prove I'm not fluent in those anyway?


Anonymous said...

I just wish they made it seem it would only take about ten minutes. More like 30 minutes and that was only because I happened to have my Hydro Quebec bills handy and could get the total of my electricity bill last year (ridiculously low despite all the complaints from Quebecers who don't know how the rest of the world lives).

If you happen to go to help to get more info on a question and then close the help box with the little x in the corner, you will lose everything and need to search in your favourites box to find it again if you are lucky. Close the help box by going to the bottom of the page instead.

A lot of questions about which Indian band you belong to which I think they could have skipped as they do for other questions if you answer one way instead of another.

Alex said...

Really? Mine is nothing like that. You must have the longer version. Unless they are random questions.

oxygentax said...

Alex -

Mine was like yours. Who lives here, birthdays, languages spoken.

I was going to put in the comments of the survey to question why they couldn't get this information from an Income Tax Return every year, but the envelope was sealed by the time I thought of it.

Alain said...

I also resent it being mandatory, but at least that is no longer the case with the long form. I found it silly however that they asked for each person's date of birth and then his or her age. It seems they lack math skills. I personally do not see what business it is of their's what language is spoken at home and most of the language questions. Furthermore, the language world is much bigger than English and French.

Frances said...

Oxygen - do you really want Stats Can to have unfettered access to your income tax return? Said return is supposed to be confidential (except for the myriad CRA employees who can gain access), and unauthorized access to and distribution of information about your income is strictly prohibited. I don't even let Elections Canada get my name from the return. BTW, that's probably how so many non-citizens got on the voting list: they checked 'yes' to the 'provide your name, address, and date of birth to Elections Canada' in the days when said query was NOT preceded by a question about citizenship.

Rob said...

As a "technically" homeless person I have no fixed address so I don't count in any census.

wilson said...

The short form is a head count, and mandatory as is in our Canadian Constitution.

The long form household survey, with all the extra questions, is now voluntary.

Anonymous said...

Considering the fun my friends and I have with marketing surveys and using loyalty cards (trading them back and forth when making similar dollar value purchases, I wonder what gives the bureaucrats at Stats Can any real confidence in the answers they get on these forms?

Just asking

Alex said...

It doesn't really say what languages I speak on my tax return...
My name birthday and address must be in a dozen departments and agencies around the country, not to mention every company I deal with from xbox to Air Canada.

Its only a matter of time before my information gets out. -but I've gotten there first. -a scorched earth policy ;)

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