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Friday, September 01, 2017
Handling Bureaucracy Creatively by Eleanor Shepherd
Today I wanted to get at my writing. However, there were a
few administrative details that I needed to look after first. When we returned
from vacation yesterday, I found one of those grey-beige envelopes in my mail
from Service Canada. This time it concerned my pension. When I opened it, I
discovered that in spite of the fact that my husband and I have been married
for nearly 48 years, according to Revenue Canada the latest information that
they have about me is that, “You are single, living apart for reasons beyond
your control, separated, divorced or a surviving spouse (widow/widower) or
surviving common-law partner.” This was surprizing news to both of us. So I
decided that first thing this morning, I should try and straighten things out.
On the back
of the form providing this information was a phone number that I could call, as
well as a website. I started with the phone. Talk about choices! The first one
was easy, as I opted for the English language, so I did not have to hang up and
dial the number that they quickly rattled off in French. Then I was given about
eight options, but none of them suggested anything about correcting the incorrect
information that I had received regarding my marital status. At the end was the
option to hear them all again. When I hesitated, not quite sure what to do
next, I was informed that I had taken too long to make my choice, thus I would
have to press another key to go back to the choices.
I did so, and discovered that the option I decided to choose gave me other
options and the choosing the third one, I thought that I was on the right
track. Then I realized that the information that I wanted to correct was not
included in their list and I had an option of dialling zero to speak to an
operator. Immediately the message clicked in that due to the volume of calls no
operators were available and my best option was to go to the website. At the
time, that seemed like a good idea to me, as it was clear that I was not going
to get anywhere on the phone.
was put off by not being able to communicate with the proper government
authorities, I am of a persistent nature, so after lunch I decided to try the
website. I copied the address from the form into my browser. Then the option
came up for me to register, so that I could access my Service Canada account.
The way to do this was to register through your financial institution although
the financial institution would not have any access to your Service Canada
information. This sounds like a simple process, but again this proved not to be
the case. My password did not work, so I had to change it. (I realized later
that the reason it did not work was that the caps lock was on so everything was
in upper case.) Strict instructions were given not to write this password down
anywhere. I just hope that I can remember it by the time that I am able to
finally access the site.
process included having to apply for a code number to be able to access your
account. To do this, you must leave the website and go to another website. Step
by step, I followed all the instructions and then discovered that the code
number will be sent to me in the mail! So it looks like our government will
continue to be misinformed about my marital status for the next little while,
until I receive the code and can access my account and make the corrections to
it. I do not plan to change my status to accommodate to their assessment of it.
As for my
writing, it looks like today it will consist of filling out forms on-line multiple
times and cranking out this rant. Perhaps I should have forgotten about the
need to correct a government mistake about my status and just expounded on the
enrichment I have found in life by being married to my best friend for 48
years. That would be an interesting document to send to Service Canada. Perhaps
I will do that when I receive the code to access my account. It could brighten
up the life of some employee who may be buried under incorrect forms.