Canadian Government Declares Year 2000 Awareness Week : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Industry Canada

Office of Consumer Affairs

Last week was "Year 2000 Awareness" week in Canada, according to the Canadian government. To "warn" the public about y2k (which it entitled "Millennium Bug, Your Guide to a Bug-Free Home Environment") it distributed a flyer to 11 million homes. Prior to this, other than answers to reporters' questions, its only public mention of y2k was an iceberg ad, aimed at businesses, which it began running on tv near the end of December.

The flyer's an impressive one--large format, lots of colour, lots of graphics. What does it say?

It says the "bug" will affect very few household appliances. It includes microwave ovens amongst the items that will *not* be affected by the "bug," in spite of the results of IBM's tests. It says water heaters will *not* be affected by the "bug," in spite of some manufacturers' indications date sensitive chips are in their products. It says cars, vans, trucks, recreational vehicles, trailers and motorcycles will *not* be affected by the "bug" (no date-senstive chips measuring rate or flow or time since last service there, either.) And it makes no mention at all of chips in household electric, gas, or water meters, even though some problems are already being encountered in electric meters (those guys creating the 10 to 20-digit millisecond to date numbers in chip BIOS sometimes got flippant with day/month/year accuracy, so the chips can actually rollover anytime.)

In spite of "cars" being listed in the "not affected" category, the brochure then goes on to say "a late-model luxury car may contain as many as 50 microprocessors...." but quotes the Canadian Automobile Association as saying "there is no cause for alarm...." It then goes on to list compliancy statements from various automobile manufacturers; Chrysler Canada's statement is noticeably absent. And it makes no mention of the trucking industry.

In the manufacturers' compliancy statements, the all-time winner so far in the realm of obfuscation comes from a company called JVC: "JVC assures our customers that current and future products will work in compliance with the Year 2000 readiness." I swear this is a direct quote; what the h*** does that mean?

The brochure goes on to say VCR's, security systems, fax machines, answering machines,digital cameras, video cameras, and watches may be affected. It warns about electronic goods bought abroad and notes the special circumstances of apartment buildings and condominiums. Then it goes on to say that Jan. 1, 2000 is "the date when problems can actually materialize." It also says manual resets are a simple solution.

But, it goes on to say, if that doesn't work, consult retailers and manufacturers. It says "many (manufacturers) have been in touch with their suppliers (many of which are in Asia) and have received confirmation that their devices are compliant." What a lot of research this government department must have been doing to know all of this for a fact!

Next the brochure addresses legal protection in the event of a malfunctioning product. It says provincial and territorial consumer protection legislation *may* apply, and it says civil remedies *may* be available. It then goes on to mention a couple of pieces of federal legislation that, you guessed it, "may" be used if the product was promoted as being Year 2000 "compatible," but one of them "...requires performance claims to be backed up with adequate and proper tests." It *doesn't* add that if the tests do not prove conclusively that the product's problem was caused by y2k, the consumer pays for the tests.

What about insurance for the home owner/tenant? This one may surprise many people; go to Insurance Bureau of Canada for the details. In short, "...policies are (not) intended to cover the cost of replacing devices or equipment that have become obsolete, (nor) the cost of upgrading an electronic apparatus, for whatever reason." So, if your home has a fire or explosion caused by a malfunctioning chip,....

Banking. "...the banks and Interac have been updating and testing their computer systems...." and "...Canadians can be confident that their financial services providers expect to have their technology fully prepared. By Dec. 1999, Canada's banks will have spent close to $1 billion getting their systems ready." Consult Canadian Bankers Assoc. for more specifics. The only compliancy statement received by me to date has been from a credit union; the bank at which I have an account has said *nothing.*

Government. The Canadian government is "working on it." In fact, it's a top priority. You may consult their sites via Info Canada, but my guess is you won't get any firmer confirmation than what is in the brochure.

Three pages of the brochure are devoted to "your PC." A disclaimer on the last page says "...nothing you read here constitutes legal or professional advice. This means that you, or any organization you work with, are entirely responsible for any preparations you make to deal with the bug."

The brochure makes absolutely no mention of infrastructure concerns nor of telecommunications and utilities preparedness. While it says that the Minister of National Defence is coordinating emergency preparedness and contingency plans, it makes no mention of any preparedness or contingency plans that the individual should be doing for water, electricity, or telephone outages or for supply shortages. It does not mention the food distribution system. And it definitely makes no mention of the stock market nor how to find out specific information you can get about the preparedness of specific companies to be able to make informed investment decisions.

Still, I guess it's better than nothing.

-- Rachel Gibson (, February 14, 1999


Thanks for the excellent update Rachael.

Sure looks like the Canadian government types have had long conversations with the United Stated government types. Wonder if anyone taped those conversations?

They all think like magicians ... "look over here at this hat , no, no, not at that one." Thinking if they keep up the act, the illusion, maybe no one will notice, who is behind the flimsy curtain.

Meanwhile, in the states, FEMA, the emergency managers around the country and our military is preparing. For what ... we wonder?

Diane *Big Sigh*

-- Diane J. Squire (, February 14, 1999.

I am a Deputy Fire Chief in Ontario Canada. The Above mailing from Industry Canada, I believe, is just the first of a series of mailings. This one was meant to focus on the home. My understanding is that in late spring another flyer will focus on infrastructure and suggest forms of preparation. Certainly Emergency Services in Ontario are busy updating Emergency Plans to include a Year2000 component. The Office of the Solicitor General of Ontario has directed this, through Emergency Measures Ontario. Our Fire Department has held public meetings and distributed two brochures to the community. I think in Ontario, it is the Fire Departments who are very much at the forefront of Emergency Planning for Year2000.

-- suburban (, February 14, 1999.

Dear Suburban,

Thanks for posting. In California, Oregon, and Washington States, USA, the Fire Departments have local training programs for civilians in some areas. These classes are sponsored and developed by FEMA, and train with reading materials, lectures, videos, tabletop proceed-throughs, drills, and exercises for Neighborhood/Community Emergency Response Teams of volunteer citizens. These excellent 8-week courses continue with advanced training seminars and exercise 'rodeos.' The training started as a response to earthquakes and has evolved into sizing up various possible disasters and infrastructure disruptions.

Does Canada offer anything like this? Would you be interested in preparing your city by training volunteer citizens? A little education goes a long way in determining how the populace reacts to surprise catastrophes.

The fireppl and the experts they bring in are truly superb. Heroes in action. Class participants are very appreciative.

Ashton & Leska in Cascadia, wondering what the Fire Depts in Canada are doing re nitty-gritty training of civilians

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (, February 14, 1999.

"JVC assures our customers that current and future products will work in compliance with the Year 2000 readiness." I swear this is a direct quote; what the h*** does that mean? "

This is where knowing how to read between the lines and understanding the psychology of disinformation comes in handy. I'll attempt to analyse it with what I understand.

Here, both the words "compliance" and "readiness" are used in the same sentence quite expertly to mislead the reader, as those 2 words are key words the reader expects to see if a company has successfully remediated its Y2K problems. But those words are each interchangable synonyms, and we could translate this phrase as follow:

- JVC assures its customers that current and future products will work, in compliance [observance] to the year 2000 readiness [preparations].

Notice that I only added a comma, and gave synonyms to the key words. Now read it again. To me it means: JVC is assuring its customers that its current and future products will work, which is what we want.

"...the banks and Interac have been updating and testing their computer systems...." and "...Canadians can be confident that their financial services providers expect to have their technology fully prepared."

Same misleading use of words here. Key words; confident, expect, fully prepared.

They're telling us that we can feel confident that the bankers expect to have their bugs fixed in time. Well ofcourse I believe that bankers are optimistic like the rest of the business world to be ready on time. They're still not ready though.

"Still, I guess it's better than nothing."

I disagree, it's a blatant sleeping pill propaganda booklet. It will be very effective in putting a lot of people to sleep and make matters worse as many people will not prepare because of it.

-- Chris (, February 14, 1999.

Thanks, Dianne, for your appreciation. Canadians need some "heads- up" too.

Dear Surburban,

Thank you for posting. Fire during (or because of) any possible disruptions is one of my greatest concerns. Can you tell me how a Fire Dept. makes contingency plans for the possibility of no water? I ask in seriousness, and not to be offensive, because one description of such a situation The Ice Storm says the Montreal Fire Dept. was contemplating having to bulldoze or even dynamite buildings to prevent fires from spreading when they had no water to fight them.

In this intense discussion of wood burning stoves, propane heaters and stoves, coal oil and gas lamps, fireplaces and candles, the potential fire hazards inside a home horrify me. I've burned candles for years and *still* find myself being less careful than I should with them and their immediate surroundings. It is my understanding Montreal did have fires caused by the carelessness of people trying to heat their homes. If we actually begin to find ourselves seeking/using alternative means of heat and light in our homes, the fire hazards will be enormous. As will be the risk of fire if we do not connect generators properly??? My sense is that it would be wise for information pertaining to these risks and methods of preventing them to be placed in the public realm via mainstream media and/or brochures soon; the word needs to be spread as a fire prevention measure.

Thank you, too, for the info that this mailing was just a first in a series; I did not see/hear "more to follow" as an addendum to this brochure. In fact, I've been reading govt. reports and minutes of meetings since last spring and am appalled by the shortage of concrete, factual information that appears to be available to people in this country, even online. My best info comes from programmers I know, and the news is not good.

Finally, I live in a large city in another province. If the Fire Dept. here is preparing, it's keeping quiet about it. So are the Emergency Measures people. And city council. And our provincial govt. As has been said repeatedly, it's the lack of concrete information that disturbs people. Forewarned is forearmed. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to shed some light.

-- Rachel Gibson (, February 14, 1999.

I have never posted before so thanks for the encouragement! Dear Leska- Emergencies in Canada are co-ordinated through Emergency Preparedness Canada and are handled under legislation called the Emergency Measures Act (used to be the War Measures Act). Each Province has provincial bodies to likewise co-ordinate-- like Emergency Measures Ontario. Fire, Police and Ambulance, as First Responders, tend to be the hands on Emergency Planners and Implementors. When requested, things get bumped up the line to provincial bodies and then federal-- ie. the Military. Emergency preparedness is not part of the psyche of urban Canadians and there is no training going on for citizens. Remember, Canada's population is small and spread out-- 85% of Fire Departments in Ontario are Volunteer-- it has only been the Ice Storm of 98, flooding in Quebec and the Praries that has really been large scale disasters-- and present Emergency Bodies handled it. Rural Canadians are generally Emergency planners by nessecity-- they have back-ups and root cellars and pantries and canning rooms --etc. We are used to isolation and storms and power outages through weather. It is the few large cities that will pose a problem- Toronto for one. Hope I answered your question.

Dear Rachel-- most Fire Deparments in Canada have to take their water to the fire! Hydrant systems are reserved for the big cities. Thus in the system are many tankers which can be utilized with portatanks from which to draft-- our own department has three. Most Departments work on a mutual Aid system and so are available should any jurisdiction need help-- provided they are not needed by their own area..

You are right about the potential fire hazards in a home- anyone can be thoughtless for a few minutes and disaster results. Careful discipline and practice is important-- myself, I think while everyone should be trained in the home, such things as emergency lighting should be assigned to one person specifically to oversee their safe use, filling, repair, and replacement. This person might also be the family safety officer with max authority. Fire extinguishers are critical- ABC 5Lb or more, mounted (not where fire is most likely, like the kitchen) - turn them over once a month and shake and hit the bottom with your palm. Candles are the last resort for light- not a good idea.

We are having a community meeting on Thursday, called and hosted by our Emergency Planning Committee to talk about emergency planning and hopefully generate questions. Our second brochure from our department mentioned some of the things you were concerned about and the priority safety ietms to go with it-- you would be horrified how many plan to run generators in their basements or store white gas down there too! Makes my skin crawl. I remember once arriving on an accident scene where an injured lady had been moved by well meaning bystanders- moved to the side of her car where gas was pooling all around their feet and then some nice fellow lit her a cigarrete! First thing I did was grab it and put it out and was she ever mad! Oh- well-- people dont think and react well in emergecies unless they think it through, plan and prepare.

Sorry about the long post- guess I'm venting a bit. By the way-- just because we are doing all this for the community doesn't mean we are well received-- some people are furious we are even talking about emergency planning. go figure. We like to point out that everyone is an emergency planner- if they have a smoke detector or a flashlight just in case-- everyone is already an emergency planner to some degree.


-- suburban (, February 14, 1999.

Rachel and Chris: No disinformation was intended by the JVC statement. JVC is Japan Victor Corporation- remember the logo of the dog listening to its master's voice? JVC is owned by Matsushita Electric Industrial - known in the west as Panasonic.

What your reading is a poor translation of the Japanese y2k compliance statement. The English language translation is: "y2k compliant." There really was no intended obfuscation or attempt to manipulate.

[Insert gentle reminder that North Americans don't make many products these days. Manufacturing has been out-sourced to Japan and Asia. North Americans are too busy sitting around the kitchen table with a calculator and pad of paper figuring out how much money they're going to make getting in on the "ground floor" of the next "network marketing" 7x7 downline matrix for cosmetics, phone cards, foreclosed properties, reminder services, y2k preparation kits (sorry Ed), vitamins, food supplements, gift baskets, etc...All saying that the "product" doesn't matter - just set up the downline of "starter kits."]

-- PNG (, February 14, 1999.

Rachel, Your post is a good description and Suburban's response is very responsible and helpful. One unfortunate note follows. The 8 page modern art flier is odd sized at about 11" x 13" with one perpendicular fold to a handling size of about 5 1/2" x 11" which does not compare to any standard size document or envelope. Some homes received two and some homes received none. Many apartment boxes are too small to accomodate them and some were left in piles like junk mail and just thrown out by residents or cleanup crew.

-- Finding (, February 14, 1999.

PNG: Thank you for the clarification. And for the added reminder of how short we may be of certain items down the road.

Finding: Thank you. Sorry to hear about the distribution problems. I wondered about the awkward shape and size, too, then just presumed they wanted it to be different from the rest of the junk mail and therefore more eye-catching/attention-grabbing.

Diane: Sorry about the extra "n."

Suburban: Don't apologize for the rantings--they're informative. What some people reject from you today they may well appreciate having heard down the road. I would like to read your brochures. If they're online, would you mind posting the URL?

Thanks for explaining the hierarchy of services in an emergency situation. I have read the War Measures Act and remember what happened when Trudeau invoked it, but I do not know what changes were made to the Act other than its name. Could you elaborate in terms of revised intent and possibly major changes to content? Also, I was not aware that provinces had similar acts.

A major fear many have during an emergency is that of being forced to leave one's home. I remind you that the national Emergency Measures Act was not invoked during the Manitoba floods and during the ice storm, even though the armed services were called upon to help out. In these two situations, were the provincial acts invoked? In both cases the emergency workers appeared to use gentle persuasion to get people to move. The question heavy on my mind is: can I be *forced* to leave my home if I do not perceive myself to be in imminent danger, and what happens if I refuse to leave?

You told Leska "emergency preparedness is not part of the psyche of urban Canadians...." Can you elaborate on that somewhat? While I now live in a city, I grew up in the country, as did many other urban Canadians. Perhaps because I do not have a clear understanding of what you meant, I may be stabbing in the wrong direction to suggest that our instinct for self-preservation exists no matter where we live. And that we are not only willing, but also capable of helping ourselves and of helping others to the best of our ability. The more we are prepared, the better able we are to help.

Re fire fighting, your mention of the tankers eased my mind considerably. Would water-bombing from helicopters also be feasible in an urban area? A few days ago, even cement trucks were used to get water to a prairie grass fire.

Your information about fire safety techniques in the home is appreciated. Again, I'm hoping this type of information will be distributed throughout the country in a very public manner--not everyone is online and, of those who are, not all of them are busy reading about y2k! My memories of a farm home going up in flames when there was nothing with which to fight it remind me that I don't want some ill-informed neighbour suddenly delving into the art of home heating/cooking/lighting with minimal concern for the risks he/she is taking.

-- Rachel Gibson (, February 14, 1999.

PNG, thanks for your explanation. I'm still disturbed that this Y2K mailing seems to be a sleeping pill. And Finding's observations that the mailing is of odd size and poorly distributed confirms my hunch which I expressed on another thread that many people would not get to read it and/or simply trash it without looking at it. It's probably better this way, as I fear it would lull people from taking appropriate precautions. If people are reading this mailing at all, they've probably read Y2K articles in the paper and/or heard about it on T.V., so it's not as if it would reach people who haven't heard of Y2K at all.

Suburban, you've pointed out a very important stockpile item that I didn't think about, and I haven't seen mentioned on this forum; ABC fire extinguishers!! I have 4 in my house at all times, one at each level and one close at hand in the kitchen. I'll get at least 4 more extras, and bigger ones. Gees, I'm wondering what other "obvious" item I haven't thought of stockpiling.

-- Chris (, February 14, 1999.

This is probably a good time to post this link again. It's the latest I've seen on how the Canadian military plans to deal with Y2K: 5108.html

-- Kevin (, February 15, 1999.

Dear Rachel,

No, the brochures are not online. I am not up to speed yet on how to do that. Just posting here is a challenge. I am willing to mail them to any who might want them. just email me. About being forced' to leave your home: In certain circumstances I believe this is very possible: imagine if a chemical tanker overturned and a one-mile exclusion zone had to be enforced- evacuation is the decision of the Incident Commander and I do believe that forced evacuation is a possibility-- with later accountability. But generally I don't think it would happen. But a Y2K scenario is different-- forced evacuation for Y2K is probably the last thing emergency services would want to happen as it overloads your people and emergency infrastructure really quickly. You would want as many as possible to look after themselves and have the tools to do so-- ie gas for generators. Better to encourage people now to have a non-electric safe secondary heat source at all times, or to have a pre-determined safe-place' (neighbour) that they can seek shelter with, than to have to be thinking of forced removal.

I do believe that we live in a culture that believes itself to be very independent. This independence is an illusion of course, and quickly dispersed when something like an ice storm comes along. We are an incredibly dependent people. City folk are more likely to believe the lie. As well, city living is usually on a just in time' inventory system, just like the companies. Grab a Big Mac for supper. Want chicken? Run down to the store and get it. This does not bode well if there are supply problems.

In regards to water bombers used in cities- not going to happen. Too dangerous for ground crews and citizens and air crews. Most of that water would be exterior and have little impact.

Preparation is the alternative to panic. Every person who is prepared for any emergency is one less person who will need help, and one more person who can give help to others.


-- suburban (, February 15, 1999.

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