Canada ‘anticipates increase in passport applications’ as holidays near

Wait times for Canadian passports have improved but the federal government is anticipating high volumes as the holidays approach.

Wait times for Canadian passports have improved but the federal government is anticipating high volumes as the holidays approach.

Renewing or getting a new passport has been frustrating for many people over the past several months. From delays in getting the travel documents to lineups lasting, in some cases, days, an increase in demand as pandemic restrictions waned put immense pressure on a system that was already dealing with challenges of its own.

In an email to CityNews, Employment and Social Development Canada says at one point earlier this year, “waiting times were upwards of 6 hours” as it offered people the option of going to a Service Canada Centre for non-urgent requests, offered appointments at later dates, or offered other service delivery options.

Related articles: 

“The average wait time now is less than 4 hours, however, we now have more service options which allow for individuals who do not have urgent in-person needs to submit their application through different channels,” the email reads, in part.

“Greater Vancouver Service Canada Centre – Passport Services (SCC-PS) offices, which includes Vancouver, Surrey, and Richmond, are currently able to serve all clients in the queue, and arriving before the office opens at 8:30 a.m. is not necessary,” it adds.

Passport lineups reached critical levels at times, with some people even travelling to other Canadian cities to try to speed the process up.

Holiday passport demand

While the situation has somewhat improved, Employment and Social Development Canada says it “anticipates an increase in passport applications” as the holiday season nears.

“The Greater Vancouver area continues to see high volumes,” the ministry’s email reads. “Additional hiring and training of new staff continues.”

The government began posting passport wait times online in June. Some sites still show hours-long waits, though many locations are far less busy than they were just a few months ago.

At the time, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, called the lengthy waits “far from acceptable.”

In a statement a month later, she said “Canadians deserve access to timely, efficient, and transparent passport delivery services,” adding the government was continuing to work to “tackle big challenges in the passport program.”

“We are starting to put a dent in the backlog,” she said in the statement dated Jul. 15. “Last week, the number of passports issued was higher than at any point since before the pandemic, at 54,312. That is up over 20% since the previous week, and the weekly rate is up just over 53% compared to the week ending Apr. 8. We are not out of the woods, but this is a positive trend. The next few weeks will be critical in keeping this momentum.”

In its email to CityNews on Oct. 27, Employment and Social Development Canada says “There have been improvements in passport service delivery” since the major delays months prior.

“With the hiring of additional staff and other measures that have been implemented, wait times have reduced and all clients are able to be served same day. We recognize that wait times can be long and vary based on location, however, individuals waiting often have urgent travel needs in the next 24-72 hours, which is why they choose this channel,” the ministry explained.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today