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Today, a couple of updates to earlier blog entries (of course that means later or at least further-down-the-page ones if you're reading my blog in reverse chronological order!)

First, on this year's Census. As it turned out, there don't seem to have been any Statscanspolizei ready to pounce on anyone who didn't have the thing signed sealed & delivered by May 10. In fact, I even saw TV commercials several weeks after the originally-touted deadline urging us to complete the Census because of its value in planning services for Canadians - a "carrot" rather than a "stick" type of approach, in contrast to the original notification we got in our mailbox. I did, however, hear and read about plenty of frustrations with the way the thing was administered - particularly from residents of retirement and long-term care homes. There were a lot of residents who were ready, willing and able - even eager - to provide the required Census information about themselves, but were NOT EVEN ASKED!! Instead, the administrators of the residence were asked to provide some basic information for all of their people - less detailed, even, than that asked for on the short-form Census.

There are, of course, a number of problems with this approach. One thing I learned very early in my career with the public service was that wherever possible, personal information should be obtained directly from the horse's - er, human's - mouth. Or pen or keyboard or whatever. And Statistics Canada are supposed to be the experts on data collection, aren't they? I know whenever we wanted to survey even a small group of people - say, users of our library - we got cautioned that these things really should go through Statistics Canada because this wasn't a job for amateurs - or even for mere librarians!

The information obtained en bloc through these channels is less detailed, more apt to be erroneous, and will not conform to their own criteria of giving the long-form Census to one out of every however many (4? 6? 7?) people sampled. It's also very patronizing to this group of people and will not adequately represent their needs and perspectives when applying the Census data for research and planning and other purposes.

I dealt back in May with the particular problems I had with the Census, but I wasn't aware then of these other issues. And there are probably others that will come to light in the next few months or years. Let's hope they get addressed by 2021!

For my second update, I'll revisit our furnace woes that I last wrote about on March 14, 2015. During the winter of 2014-2015, we had persistent problems with our furnace failing to kick in if the indoor temperature dipped below wherever we'd set the thermostat to. Or it would start up very briefly if we turned the thermostat way up or pressed the reset button, but would stop again after perhaps 30 seconds, long before the house had reached a comfortable temperature. After my March 14 entry, I think we had one or two more instances of that problem before it finally got fixed once and for all, a week or two before the heating season ended!

Fortunately we were on Petro Canada's "furnace protection plan", so we weren't really out of pocket much, even when we had to call in a serviceman late in the evening or on a Sunday morning. But I guess they must have made a corporate decision soon afterwards that customers like us were not worth the trouble - because by the 2015-16 heating season they had contracted out their furnace servicing plans to a separate company! The pricing was very similar, we just started getting two separate bills. But I'm pleased to say that after a late start - and a correspondingly late finish - to Ottawa's winter of 2015-2016, we had no further problems with our furnace.
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