March 23, 2012

Is Government Bureaucracy There To Help You?

Does anyone know what civil servant really means? Is government bureaucracy there to help you? Do they do their job properly and professionally? Does it happen on either side of the Canadian or United States Border? Does it happen either federally or provincially or at the state level? I have a lot more questions. I will answer these at the end of my article.

I am going to write this posting from a place that is mine alone. I am going to write it in light of a specific problem. I will try to accurately describe my particular bureaucratic problem. I arrived in Canada in late spring of 2011 from the states. Canada is my homeland. I had been living in the United States of America since 1998. I had gone to live there with my husband who was a native Oklahoman and an American.

My Permanent Resident Card was issued in February 23, 2000. I had gotten my Oklahoma drivers license some time in 1999. When I moved to New York in 2010 my drivers license was issued in June 24, 2010. The reason I am making sure you know the dates of all my different cards is so you can follow what has not occurred since I have arrived in Canada.

Being in Canada again I need to get my Ontario driver's license so I can apply for my Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan card. So the first time I went I thought I was already to apply for the license; but they said I needed a 'line of linkage' between my maiden name and my present married name. So I went and spent some money on the long forgotten divorce papers of 3 marriages, waited for them to come by mail, and brought them back the next month.

Oh by the way, the licensing bureau that I need to go to is in Aurora which is a good 20 miles from Richmond Hill and my niece has taken me back and forth 6 times so far. They don't accept phone calls much; so if they are closed, you have to go there to find out or if there are a lot of kids there because of a PD day you don't know about until you are there. Well then they said that what they asked for didn't provide the 'right' 'line of linkage' so I sent for 3 marriage certificate copies to prove this 'line of linkage'. Two months later, once I got the marriage certificate copies in the mail, I went and stood at the cubical for over an hour and they came back and said that my right birth date was not on my New York license. I beg your pardon???? I have been here a total of 10 months and still have not gotten my Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan or License cards.

I have spent many afternoons on long distance, I can ill afford even with a telephone plan. I have tracked the whole fiasco back to my Permanent Resident Card in the states. Now the negligence is truly on the side of the US immigration bureaucrats as I showed my birth certificate to the gentleman at the counter. He wrote it on his documents in Oklahoma from that. Here is the rub. My birthday is December the 9th of 1947 which is written as Dec. 9, 1947 on my birth certificate card. Some how or another the 'Wazoo' who transcribed it wrote it down as 9/12/47 which in American meant I was supposedly born on Sept. 12, 1947. So this guy at the immigration building in Oklahoma is most probably going to cost me $450 so I can have everyone down the line satisfied that I am who I say I am and that I was born 3 months later on the 9th of December of 1947. What should have been on all the cards according to the American way is 12/9/47 or as in the case of the drivers licenses 12.9.47.

At this point so far I have spent over $60 on this 'proof'. The problem is folks, I was brought up in Canada were my birth date would be shown one of two ways. They are Dec. 9, 1947 or 9/12/47. The card the people at the Immigration place in Oklahoma were shown was clearly written as Dec. 9, 1947 so they should not have had my second way of writing it to blame.

The last part of this saga happened in the past month when I called upon the Member of Provincial Parliament for my region for some practical and sane help with the whole fiasco. They as yet have not phoned me back. So here I sit in my downstairs room, with Dylan the dog barking at me, totally frustrated with bureaucracy!

Now to answer those questions asked at the beginning of this missive. A civil servant is a public official who is a member of the civil service. Civil servants are therefore government workers; usually hired on the basis of competitive exams. My experience is that government bureaucracy is there to help you sometimes. It depends what kind of mood your civil servant is in that day. It also depends a lot on their personality as to whether they do their job properly and professionally too. It is all extremely unfathomable on both the Canadian and American sides of the border why they are allowed to run roughshod over the average pedestrian. This is equally true federally or provincially or at the state level. They dazzle you with their unique civil servant's language, and bury you in forms until you say 'uncle' and tearfully pay their unbelievably large fees.
Oh, and I have no idea where I should file my income tax and no one has sent me any 'T 4's. By the way, just for your edification, none of the above should be the case. But it is, so isn't that a bureaucratic pickle?