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Statement from Minister Gould on improving passport processing times

·4 min read

GATINEAU, QC, June 23, 2022 /CNW/ - "I am deeply concerned about the delivery of passport services to Canadians, and the difficult and stressful situation too many Canadians are facing in getting passports in time for their travel plans. Improving this service is a top priority for the Government of Canada. I share the frustration of Canadians and want to reiterate that these lineups, waits and uncertainty are unacceptable. That is why I have directed officials in my department and at Service Canada to work to find and implement solutions to these problems.

"Service Canada has added staff, streamlined procedures and increased processing capacity to help deal with this unprecedented situation. However, significant challenges remain. I have directed that Service Canada continue to do more, and it is now implementing measures to make waits at specialized passport sites more predictable and manageable.

"Given the large crowds and lineups for passport services in urban centres, Service Canada is implementing new triage measures to provide a more intensive, client-specific approach. This work started earlier this week in Montreal, and with ongoing refinements, it should improve circumstances—especially the experience of those waiting in line. These measures were extended to Toronto and will be implemented in Vancouver beginning on Monday, June 27, as well as in other cities across the country. In the early morning, increased numbers of managers and executives are assisting and speaking directly with clients in order to triage lineups at specialized passport sites.

"While the triage methods vary from location to location based on the circumstances, staff will be focused on clear communication to clients, prioritizing service to those with urgent travel needs within the following 24 to 48 hours. They will also be directing clients with longer term travel plans to the most appropriate service channels to ensure their passport needs are met and their travel is not interrupted. This includes making better use of the network of over 300 Service Canada sites, and ensuring all centres have the staff, technology and processing capacity to offer by-appointment passport service to clients with less urgent situations, who have been redirected to them through the triage process.

"It is important to note that despite the lineups and challenging circumstances on the ground, Canadians with urgent travel who apply at specialized passport centres are generally receiving their passports in time to travel. As of the week ending June 19, 96% of Canadians receive their passport within 10 working days of submitting an application in person at a specialized site. But I recognize, the delayed delivery of passports is not uniquely an urban problem, which is why I have directed officials to also focus on improving the processing times at centres that handle mail applications and to address the inventory of applications already in hand.

"We also understand that Canadians expect transparency and deserve to receive regular and clear information from the Government of Canada on this critical service. While the situation remains very fluid, we will continue to ensure our websites, Service Canada Centres, call centre staff and passport sites always have the most up–to-date information, so Canadians can know what to expect. I will be regularly available to speak through the media to Canadians about our efforts to serve them.

"Staff from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are now assisting with direct passport processing. IRCC has also identified program delivery changes to help Service Canada process applications faster. Service Canada also expects up to 200 Canada Revenue Agency staff to join the service team for passports in Quebec as the tax filing season draws to a close. Additional print capacity has been added to support applications from the Montreal area. Coupled with additional streamlining of passport processing and printing, Service Canada is optimistic that these steps will lead to further improvements.

"Work is also underway to provide online reporting of key passport statistics, including national volume of intake and delivery, to be updated regularly. This builds on the recently launched publication of estimated wait times for specialized passport sites on Canada.ca.

"At the same time, public servants from across numerous departments are working overtime, evenings, holidays and weekends to help address the situation and deliver service. I also want to thank the dedicated frontline staff who are working so hard to support Canadians during these unprecedented times.

"I want to reassure Canadians that no option to improve service will be left on the table, and solutions are being implemented as rapidly as possible when they are identified. We continue to thank Canadians for their patience, as the Service Canada teams work diligently and tirelessly to provide the passports and service you deserve."

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SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2022/23/c1372.html