I received my 2016 Census form the other day.
Living with mental illness I am most grateful for the existence of disability, but the reality is that after paying shelter [housing] costs, my budget leaves approximately $40 to cover all other monthly expenses.
The accountant in me is aware of how much cheaper it would be if the government focused on keeping me healthy, rather than paying the medical costs that result from being unable to control my diet or to access the new generation diabetes medication.
We could deal with so many issues more effectively and cheaply if governments and voters used facts rather than the myths we currently base government policies, actions and behaviours on.
Opening the census I found it was to be completed online. I cannot afford food, making internet access a nonessential luxury.
Fortunately a paper form of the census is available by phoning…….unfortunately a phone is also a nonessential luxury.
Your Government in Action: they make it illegal not to fill out the census form, do nothing to address the growing poverty that leaves people unable to afford internet or a phone and then send out a form that requires internet or phone to complete.
Fortunately even thought the federal government no longer provides funds to enable libraries to provide computer and internet access my FVRL library card grants me 2 hours of internet time a day and this is the short form……
Sign into the FVRL system, go online, go to the census site, enter my ‘secure code’, up comes the first page of the form……. and the first item is your phone number.
There is no provision for Canadians who cannot afford a phone to indicate they have no phone. And in complete denial of the reality of the number of Canadians who cannot afford a phone, you cannot leave the phone number blank, fill in your email address and proceed.
If you hit enter without filling in a phone number you are returned to the blank phone number space and informed you must enter a phone number to be permitted to continue filling out the census form you are required by law to complete.
The government does provide a number you can call if there is a problem, any problem other than poverty making a phone unaffordable.
You do have the option of committing the offence of entering a false [not your own] phone number, completing the census form and thus avoid committing the offence of failing to complete your census form.
We have criminalized having a health issue that leads to substance use. We have criminalized being homeless. Our government thoughtlessly criminalizes poverty. How long before the work houses of Victorian England reappear?
Now I have no expectation that the federal government is going to arrest me for using the phone number of an Abbotsford organization that provides services to the British Columbia Homeless Recycling Network in order to complete the census online.
Not because I have any expectation the federal government has any real understanding or consideration for either the growing number of poor or the increasing dept of poverty the poor are sinking to. No, I expect the government to look the other way to avoid providing an opportunity and an issue for those concerned about the deteriorating civil rights of the poor to haul the government’s sorry ass into court. Forcing the government to address and defend their lack of recognition, much less consideration, of the poor and poverty in Canada.
That blindness, the failure to perceive, represents a serious problem.
First: how many other assumptions [all have phones] did the census make and what effect did their assumptions have on the validity and usefulness of the data collected?
Second, the census that is suppose to gather information to allow for effective planning ignores the homeless, the number of poor, the depth of poverty [how many Canadians don’t have, cannot afford, a phone] ……..
Third the census failed to gather needed data it could have easily have colllected. A simple checkbox beside the space for the phone number would have revealed just how many Canadians don’t have phones.
Finally, how is the government going to address an issue it doesn’t seem to perceive and clearly has no understanding of? How many of the other issues that challenge/threaten the standard of living of Canadians do governments [municipal, provincial and federal] fail to perceive and so have no awareness or understanding of?