Canadians claim Statistics Canada harassing them after completing census

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WATCH: Filling out the census is an important civic duty. But some Canadians say they completed the forms only to be harassed continually by Statistics Canada. Mike Drolet reports. – Jul 5, 2016

More than 13 million Canadians have filled out the first mandatory census since 2006, a few hundred thousand are still outstanding. But, Global News has found a growing number of Canadians who are upset with how Statistics Canada is pursuing missing forms.

The pattern is always the same: they fill out the form, get the completion code and then suffer through a series of letters and in-person visits from enumerators — who some claim aren’t exactly acting like Canadians.

Calgary’s Kirsten Lander told Global News she’s now being harassed, even though she completed the census a month and a half ago.

“I just keep getting calls,” she said.

“They’re calling me from different numbers in different provinces. Now, the messages are getting more urgent and not as polite. It feels like they’re kind of predatory. It feels like I’ve done something wrong and I haven’t. It feels I’ve been hunted.”

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And it’s not just one enumerator in one city.

Jacqueline Reznick, of Abbotsford, B.C., sent her census in on June 10. But, she soon received three letters demanding she complete the survey. Not wanting to do it twice for fear she’d be counted twice, she refused.

After the second in-person visit, she told the enumerator to leave. “I can understand his power trip,” she said. “He was not unkind…. but he wasn’t listening.”

She also didn’t appreciate the threat of a $500 fine or three-month jail term.

Spokesperson Marc Hamel said Statistics Canada employees are trained to be polite. “They’re not to threaten the respondents in any shape or form.”

Although Statistics Canada said it’s sensitive to cases like these, the agency believes it’s doing all it can to get all Canadians to comply.

The last mandatory census saw only 64 cases of refusal referred for prosecution. Still, there are always hiccups.

Statistics Canada lists three problems they’re facing right now:

  • Every household gets a census, including cottages. Some may believe they don’t have to fill out a second form but all Statistics Canada wants is a note saying no full time resident lives at that address.
  • A number of Alberta municipalities are conducting census’ of their own which could lead to confusion.
  • Putting the census in the envelope the wrong way can lead to lost documents.

“If, by mistake, a person puts the questionnaire upside down, Canada Post can’t see the bar code,” said Hamel.

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But, that doesn’t explain the case of Edmonton’s Maya Dines.

This is her first census, after arriving in Canada in 2010.

She filled out the long-form survey online, but still got a large package in the mail instructing her to fill it out again on paper. She thought it was a “waste of time” but did it anyway.

And still, she’s getting calls.

“If they don’t hear from me I’ll be getting another call, she said. “Every other day I get a call. I’m not answering those calls. I’m just deleting them. I’m not dealing with them at all. It’s so frustrating that they’re wasting so many resources doing this follow up. I don’t know if it’s actually even a follow up. They’re just telling me I have to do it.”

Do you have video of a bad experience with Statistics Canada after completing your census? Contact Global News with the form below.

Note: We may use your response in this or other stories. While we may contact you to follow up we won’t publish your contact info.

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Vincent Matak contributed to this report.