Canadian travelers struggling with uncertainty due to passport delays

Chris Vale walked out of a Service Canada site in Scarborough on Thursday feeling relieved. Clasped between his fingers was the passport he and his wife had requested weeks ago.

The document is for their 13-month-old granddaughter. They travel in a matter of days, which means the process of getting the passport was over time.

“It’s great to finally have this in hand. It was a long process,” Vale told Global News. “It’s been about nine or ten weeks now.”

Vale and his family travel to the east coast and take a detour through the United States.

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His wife spent hours on the phone lines in French and English, trying to expedite the process. When she finally passed, Vale says they learned their daughter’s application had never been considered before that time. He tells Global News that they submitted it nine weeks ago.

“That’s when we were able to cut the process down to two days,” he explained.

From April 1 to the end of June, Service Canada received over 808,000 applications, about 166,000 more than during the same period in 2019.

Families Minister Karina Gould acknowledged in an interview with Global News that more needs to be done, and quickly. Gould has publicly stated that she is confident the government could clear the backlog in four to six weeks, or by the end of the summer.

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Many people Global News spoke to said they experienced a lack of communication and were unsure of the status of their applications.

In an interview with Global News last week, Minister Gould said the government was working on a notification system that would allow them to provide status updates to people who provided their contact details.

“Part of the challenge was that we didn’t have enough resources to get these requests into the system in a timely manner, and that slowed everything down,” the minister said in an interview this week. “So now we have more passport officers coming on board to take those passports, do the assessment, do the assessment, and then have them issued, printed, and sent to the gate.”

In a July 19 statement, the government says that for the week of July 4 to July 10, staff worked 9,349 overtime hours. Since April 1, Service Canada has issued 556,769 passports.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Carol N. Valencia