Canada: a figment of my imagination?

I’m starting to think Canada is a figment of my imagination. It’s really a land of answering machines and one way emails, and only a cosmic trick that when I call my mother she answers.

Trying to do business or contact the government to get information from overseas is an exercise in frustration. You’re blocked by the automated service that takes you from ‘press 1’ to press 5 and then back to 1 again, or you can leave a message but no one can return a Skype call. For some mysterious reason 1-800 to the government shows an American flag. What’s that all about?

Since I work in Turkey as a communications coach and do cross-cultural communications workshops, I figured I was in a good location to help with pre arrival English language and cultural awareness training for the in-coming Syrian refugees. Ready to fly to Beirut or Jordan to volunteer I emailed the Canadian Embassy in Ankara letting them know I was available. I also asked for a list of organizations they were working with who I could contact to see how I could help. The auto-reply was immediate. I’m still waiting for an answer to the follow-up emails and the message I left on their answering machine. Thinking I should go to the source I sent emails to the responsible Federal ministers. No answer. One would think they would pay someone to answer their emails.

I spend the summer months on the north end of Vancouver island. It takes ages to get even simple business done and sometimes I’m never able. I dread the process. I can spend hours in a day trying to find out information. Leave a message for a return call and maybe you’ll hear back in a week or two. Maybe.

Need to cold call an organization or agency? Forget it. Many Canadian NGO’s don’t supply a phone number on their websites. You can email info@ but they don’t answer either. Maybe if I offered to send money …

Why are Canadians putting up with this wall that has been incrementally built over the last half dozen years or more? Every year I’m amazed by how passively people are putting up with the reduction in services and an automated government. The feds seem to forget that government is a social enterprise, not an experiment in cutting costs. It’s not a business it’s a society.

Applying for a job? Don’t hold your breath because you’ll never hear back. You want to call to get feedback on your resume? Forget it.  Want to cold call to find out about an area of work? Good luck.  We have created a merry-go-round system.

It’s not normal, it’s not progress, it’s regress.

Syrians are coming from communities where you could get things done, get what you needed and if you couldn’t, find someone who would help you. Now they’ve moved to a country where there’s an automated wall between the people and the state. Where basic decency of a response is gone. One would think it was a country of hundreds of millions rather than 33.


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