The passport crisis in six questions

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The passport crisis in six questions

Service Canada has issued 556,796 passports since April 1 and expects to receive between 3.6 and 4.3 million requests in the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Between July 4 and July 10, in the midst of the passport crisis, Service Canada received 949,921 calls from applicants seeking information. While some are still planning to fly to other skies by the end of the summer or in the fall, the federal minister responsible for the file, Karina Gould, provides an update on certain questions in suspense.

The goal is that in four to six weeks, we will have crossed the peak of applications waiting to be processed, said in an interview to CBC Karina Gould, Canada's Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

She hopes that by then, people who have applied will finally receive their passports and that Service Canada can meet its usual service standards (20 working days for a mailed application and 10 days for a dropped application). in person).

“We need to do better and, quite frankly, modernize the way passport applications are made.

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

Some of these [measures to digitize the service] are going to take a few weeks and a few months, because it's a change in the nature of the process, she added.

Service Canada has issued 556,796 passports since April 1 and expects to receive between 3.6 and 4.3 million applications in fiscal year 2022-23.

You'd better not post your passport application at this time due to the huge backlog, Ms Gould said.

For some people, mail is the only option, and we want to make sure that channel is accessible to them, but the passport system is really designed as an in-person service, she added.

According to the minister, going in person allows officers to review required personal documents, including birth certificates, and return them immediately.

Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Sometimes a cell phone provider, if one has been on hold for a while, drops the call […]. And it's not really because of the Government of Canada system, because we take all the calls, Ms. Gould said.

Not enough to convince skeptics, if we rely on some reader comments published in the wake of a CBC article. If this government spent half as much effort solving problems as it spends finding scapegoats to blame, we'd be a lot further ahead, said one.

Service Canada provides a single point of access to a range of Government of Canada services.

The government agency also received 949,921 calls between July 4 and July 10. It could then count on 135 agents in its call center, to which were added 40 employees of 1 800 O-CANADA, the general telephone line of the federal government.

In mid-April, Service Canada established a system that broadcasts a message when the lines are all busy instead of the traditional busy signal. Previously, callers were automatically disconnected when lines were busy.

Service Canada says it is not responsible for financial loss if passports are not issued in time for travel. The organization therefore recommends waiting until you have your passport in hand before buying a plane ticket.

However, citizens are entitled to free passport transfer and pick-up services if Service Canada does not process their application on time.

To get a $50 refund to $150 for express and rush pick-up costs, one can claim against the Crown, said Ms. Gould.

Sometimes what happens is that people have submitted their application, and if we are still within the processing time but they are requesting urgent processing, then they have to pay the fee for the service accelerated, she pointed out.

“If it's day 22 or 24, then they shouldn't have to pay for it.”

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

Travelers hoping to leave in about a week should go in person to a passport office, where on-site printing services are available, Minister Gould said.

If departure is expected within 24 to 48 hours, proof of travel will be required.

All other travelers should visit a Service Canada center that , according to her, does not specialize in issuing passports.

One ​​of the main problems is that most applications received by Service Canada concern people who have never had a Canadian passport, said Ms. Gould, who mentioned that passport renewals represent only 12 to 15% of applications.

However , the federal government plans to develop an online application system for simple renewals. We didn't have this before so we need to build it and make sure it works, she said.

With information from Holly Cabrera , from CBC News

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