May 04, 2006

Stand up and be counted (and analysed and interrogated)!

Fawn and I just did the census online. Gone are the days, I guess, when friendly Census people would come to your door and ask you personal questions that you wouldn't even tell your neighbours about. That being said, the online census was easy and I appreciate the significant cost-savings that the online approach will (hopefully) have, though I'm sure there must have been government old-timer who was raising issues like "we can't send census questionairres to people's houses or get them to do it online! Using people to go door-to-door is a great way to generate employment!"

At the start of the census, they informed me that my answers would be used to make important government decisions. That filled me with pride. Imagine, my answers were going to be used to make important government decisions! So, what kinds of questions did they want my opinions on? Did they want to know what I think about how lowering the GST isn't helping me because it will only spur an already over-heated economy, which the Bank of Canada is trying to cool by raising interest rates - which will end up costing me way more than I'll ever save with a 1% GST cut)?

They didn't ask for anything of the sort. They asked us about our current address and where we lived one year and five years ago. The asked about the highest level of education I've attained and how old I am. They also asked about how much I made last year.

But wait a minute! Isn't this information they already have about me? Why, yes, I think it is!

Now that I've said all that, the online census was very well designed, but for some questions, there just weren't enough data-entry boxes, and some questions were, well, just plain tricky to answer...

Question: Does this person have any difficulty hearing, seeing, communicating, walking, climbing stairs, bending, learning or doing any similar activities?

I'm sure Fawn would argue that all of those apply to me at times, and how were we to answer this question for our dear baby, Jade? She can't even sit up on her own yet. Our baby's development was questioned on several other occasions, particulary in regards to her language abilities.

Can this person speak English or French well enough to conduct a conversation?
  • English only
  • French only
  • Both English and French
  • Neither English nor French
Jade is three months old! She can make some cooing sounds, has the occassional chuckle or excited shout, but nothing any rational person could call English or French. Naturally, I chose the last option.

Similar questions included "What language(s), other than English or French, can this person speak well enough to conduct a conversation?" and "What language does this person speak most often at home? English, French, Other - Specify"

How was I supposed to answer that last question? "Has not learned to speak yet," was the best I could come up with.

Hopefully the answer will help them make important government decisions.

Have fun with your census! Stand up and be verified!

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