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QUESTION PERIOD — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Passport Services

June 16, 2022

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Today in Le Devoir, there was an article entitled “Deux nuits dehors pour un passeport,” or two nights outside for a passport. I will read a few quotes from this article to illustrate the current situation, which is totally chaotic, at the Passport Canada offices. The article talks about what is happening at a specific office, but the same thing is happening at the other offices. The article says the following:

Travellers are concerned that they will not get their passport on time despite having spent two nights outside . . .

The police force . . . confirms having been called at around 3:30 p.m., on Tuesday, to defuse a “dispute” at the service location . . . .

When she decided to renew her passport, Andrée-Anne Nadeau, a resident of Boucherville, was given an appointment by Service Canada at the offices on Boulevard René-Lévesque . . . in Chandler, in the Gaspé.

That is 947 kilometres from Boucherville. It is a 12-hour drive.

The article also quoted the spokesperson for the City of Montreal’s police service, who said, “Out of frustration, a suspect allegedly pushed the security officer . . . .”

What is more, the article mentions that “some people tried to cut in front of others in line,” which led to altercations. This report includes the comments of a witness, who said, “If there are 400 people in line at 4 in the morning, you sneak in. People are desperate.”

Further down in the article, we can read the following:

The website of the Saint-Laurent passport office always showed a wait time of three hours and 45 minutes on Wednesday. It should have been 30 hours . . . . Almost 200 people were preparing to spend the night in front of the office on Wednesday evening.

This is happening here in Canada, in Montreal, at a passport office. Leader, are you aware that your government’s inertia, amateurism and improvisation are creating real chaos for people looking to obtain a passport?

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

I am very aware of the frustration. This term is probably not strong enough to describe the situation faced by Canadians trying to renew their passport. It is a serious and enormous problem.

The government is stepping up by funding the hiring of hundreds of additional people who are working overtime and on weekends to try to resolve this problem, which will not be fixed in a few minutes. It will take time for measures to take effect. The government is concerned and is taking the situation very seriously.

Leader, if your government is taking the situation so seriously, perhaps you can explain why, three weeks ago, people were still waiting to renew their passports outside the passport office formerly located at 1 Place Laval, in Laval, until a security guard came along and told them that the office had moved. There was nothing to inform people of the move, not even a note on the door.

Leader, do you consider that an appropriate level of customer service in 2022 in Canada?

Senator Gold [ + ]

I was not aware of that situation. There is no excuse for that, although I do apologize to those who waited at that location. I will try to find out more and get back to you with an explanation as soon as I know more.

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