Passports: Five new collection offices will open

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Minister of Family, of Children and Social Development, Karina Gould (Archives)

Service Canada is opening five new centers to issue passports. The announcement was made by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, in a press release on Monday.

These five new centers where it will now be possible to collect a passport are located in Pointe-Claire (in Quebec), Brampton (in Ontario), Whitby (in Ontario), Calgary Sundance (in Alberta) and Richmond (in British Columbia).

Service Canada staff are working hard to get passports to Canadians during the passport application process, Minister Gould said in the release.

The vast majority of Service Canada offices specializing in passports now offer the collection service. The five new centers are in addition to the 29 offices that already made it possible to collect a passport. Adding this [passport collection] service to these offices will also reduce queues at other offices in larger cities, the statement added.

Thus, people who want to obtain a passport will be able to do so in person at a center closer to home, rather than driving hundreds of kilometers, for example between Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Gatineau or Montreal.

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“We are currently trying to reduce the backlog and bring service standards back to normal, and we are taking all necessary steps to improve the experience of Canadians and make our services more accessible. ”

— Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

She stressed that she will ensure that Service Canada continues to examine new implements and solutions to improve services, including new technologies to better inform Canadians about the status of their application.

Since April 1, 2022, Service Canada has issued 605,440 passports, including 48,481 in the week of July 11-17 alone. The federal agency mentions that during the same period, its employees worked more than 7,000 overtime hours.

Service Canada recognizes that since April, the delays to obtain a passport have exploded. Before the start of the pandemic, we received 5,000 calls a day, and now we receive more than 200,000 calls a day, said the spokesperson for Service Canada last April.

Unexpected volume of applications and staffing shortages have significantly lengthened the time required to obtain a passport. In June, many people had to spend the night outside in very long queues.

Service Canada then set up a system of rendezvous tickets for citizens who wanted to obtain their passport in order to go on a trip abroad, but this method also experienced failures.

Service Canada then turned to a new triage system to try to solve the problem of very long queues in front of federal offices, in order to obtain a passport.

Regional Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Yvon Barrière, criticized the federal government's lack of preparation on the passport file.

According to him , staffing shortages will take time to resolve, especially since 15 weeks must be devoted to on-the-job training and coaching of new employees. We would have a stabilization of the situation towards the end of September, beginning of October, had declared Mr. Barrière on June 23.

One ​​of the main problems is that most of applications received by Service Canada were for people who have never had a Canadian passport, Minister Gould said last week. She also estimated that passport renewals accounted for only 12% to 15% of requests made to Service Canada.

However, the federal government is considering developing an application system online for simple renewals. We didn't have this before, so we have to build it and make sure it works, Ms. Gould said at the time.

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