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QUESTION PERIOD — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Passport Services

May 31, 2022

Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Leader, some public health measures have been lifted and a relative calm seems to be setting in with respect to the pandemic, so Canadians would like to start travelling again. However, travel requires getting a Canadian passport.

Last March and April, Canadians submitted more than 500,000 passport or passport renewal applications. Passport Canada appears to be experiencing the same issues as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, where slow processing has become the institutional norm. Canadians who want to apply for or renew their passports are facing unbelievably long wait times. What is worse, the minister responsible for the issuance of passports has not given Canadians any indication of how long they can expect to wait. It is taking weeks or even months, leader. Desperate people are showing up at dawn at the Guy‑Favreau complex in Montreal to try to get an expedited passport.

What concrete action does the government intend to take to remedy this unacceptable situation?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

I thank the honourable senator for his question and for raising this important issue. The government is aware of the challenges and is listening to the staff on the ground. I have been advised that the government has created new centres to increase production capacity. It has hired approximately 500 new staff members and created a new online tool to assist passport applicants and direct them to the best option for submitting their application. The government will continue to work on this issue to reduce the wait times that Canadians are facing.

Thank you, leader. I would like to read from a message a citizen sent me:

Dear senator, I am supposed to go to Morocco with my son this Thursday. He applied for his passport on April 13 and was supposed to get it on May 20. I called for a status update two weeks ago. After waiting two hours to speak with someone, I was told the file had been transferred to the Laval office and that we would get an update by May 20. No word on May 20. This morning, I am at the Saint-Laurent office. We are supposed to leave in 48 hours. It is 6:21 in the morning, and look at the lineup, which is unacceptable. Can you do something about this?

I replied, “Wow!” Here’s what he wrote back:

Mr. Senator, this is chaos. After waiting for eight hours and thanks to my own resourcefulness, I managed to get a passport a few hours before my departure.

How will the government be compensating people who, like this individual, were put through this utterly unacceptable stress or, worse still, missed their trip and their departure altogether?

Senator Gold [ + ]

The government is aware of the difficult situation caused by these delays and is doing its utmost to solve the problem.

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