Many Canadians report long delays and waiting times at passport offices as the federal government works to process nearly a million more applications last year.
After issuing only 363,000 passports between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees Service Canada, says that has grown to nearly 1.3 million the following year.
The government said Service Canada also handles tens of thousands more calls, with more than 200,000 receiving daily from about 5,000 before the pandemic.
CTVNews.ca asked Canadians to share how processing delays have affected them and their travel plans. The answers were sent via email to CTVNews.ca and not all of them have been verified independently.
Among the responses from people across the country, many said they had to cancel or reschedule their vacation amid the long wait.
As of Friday, many of those who contacted CTVNews.ca have not yet received their passports, despite the fact that some applied in February.
Jonathan Ratcliff of Bella Coola, BC says he had to cancel his trip to Europe with friends due to delays. The 18-year-old says that his friends left without him for the trip earlier this month.
“I live 450 miles from the nearest Canada Service Bureau and have had several failed attempts to contact the passport office about the status of my passport application. All I can do is wait and hope it’s coming soon.” he said.
As of Thursday, Ratcliffe had said he had not yet received his passport, “well over two months” since he applied for it.
“I’m worried it may take another month, or maybe even two, for me to come. If that’s the case, I’ll end up canceling plans to meet friends,” he said.
Josh Moden says he and his wife had planned to travel to Cuba or Mexico in late April, but were forced to cancel their plans due to passport delays.
Monden said they had an appointment at their local passport office in Peterborough, Ont. and submitted the documents along with the current passports for renewal. He says the clerk checked all their information, got the payment and submitted the applications.
Monden says it has been 45 working days since Thursday and they have not yet received their passports.
As their journey approached, Monden says they returned to Service Canada to attend in person, but were told to call the toll-free phone number on their receipt.
“We proceeded with the call, I waited for hours for it to be completed, the call was accidentally rejected from time to time and we had to try again. After we finally spoke to someone, all they could tell us was that he was under consideration. No further explanation could be given. ” he said.
“They said we could pay an extra $ 110 to speed up the process, but there is no guarantee of that.”
Monden said he would not book their trip again until the passports arrived, but hoped to do so before their Sunwing travel credit expires in January 2023.
INCREASING DISAPPOINTMENT FOR DELAYS
Cher Rowe said she already had to cancel a trip to San Francisco for her grandmother’s 80th birthday earlier this year due to passport delays and may now have to cancel next honeymoon.
While her current passport was valid and had not expired, Rowe wanted the documents to be modified to show her recently married name. He said he did not think it would take long for a simple name change request.
“I ha[d] to apply for a renewal which is a completely new application only for a name change and, as I could not get a work permit to travel to a service center, I had to mail in my application along with my current passport and the original “My birth certificate,” Rowe explained.
She says she “has no idea” where any of her documents are at the moment, whether they have been received or are being processed.
Rowe said she changed shifts at her job last Friday to drive 120 miles to the nearest Service Canada to see if she could receive an in-person update. She was withdrawn and told to call the toll free number for the national center.
“The number they provide is virtually useless – you will come across an automated message saying the lines are busy. I have only 50 calls today and will keep trying daily until I can do it,” Rowe said.
“I’m basically completely out of choice.”
Rowe is expected to leave for her honeymoon in three weeks, but has not yet received her new passport. She said she should be excited about this trip, but instead is “overly anxious”.
Calgary, Alta. Wone Yip resident says he applied for a passport renewal in the first week of March. Yip said his children treated him to Paul McCartney’s concert in Seattle on May 3.
“The copy of my bank statement showed that the charges had been processed, so I was hoping to get my passport on time,” he explained.
Yip said he called Service Canada “more than 200” times the day before his unlucky flight and had to cancel the tip. As of last weekend, he had not yet received his new passport.
Christine Miner says she and her husband planned to go to Spain to visit their son last April. However, their passports did not arrive on time for the trip.
Miner said they applied for our passports on February 21st and arrived on May 4th.
“It was much longer than the 25 working days for processing,” he said, adding that they have rescheduled their trip for June.
Ilnur Haustein says he has spent many days waiting with the Canada Service and in person at his local passport office, trying to get answers as to why he has not yet received his new passport since applying in early March.
Haustein, who lives in Burnaby, BC, booked a flight to Kazakhstan on May 7 to visit his mom, whom he has not seen in four years, the last two of which were due to pandemic restrictions. He says he was forced to cancel the trip due to “government unpreparedness”.
“The problem here is not that the issuance of passports is delayed nationwide, but how the office treats us… They are not transparent, they do not tell the truth, they give false hopes and then κάνουν they do it as our fault,” he said.
ADVICE OF SPECIALISTS FOR PASSPORT DELAY
As eager Canadians try to travel after two years of pandemic restrictions, one expert says long waiting times for renewed passports will be the “new normal” for those vacationing this summer.
Because Canadians were advised to avoid all unnecessary travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin Firestone, president of Toronto-based travel insurance brokerage Secure, says people did not look at their passports as often as they were left with. in the past and without their knowledge. the documentation expires.
Given the long waiting times, Firestone said it is best not to book a trip until you have your renewed passport in hand.
“Even the payment does not guarantee that you will make an appointment and receive this passport in two days. So, this is added to the list of the new regular that we will call it,” he previously told CTV Your Morning.
If a flight is delayed or canceled and the reason is under the control of the airline and is not related to security, travelers are entitled to “a specific standard of treatment, reimbursement and reimbursement or refund” under Canada Aviation Passenger Regulations.
However, if Canadians book an international trip and do not have their passport until departure, Firestone says they will be ready to change their flight.
“There is no security in the world that pays for travel cancellation because you do not have a passport; therefore you have to be prudent and organized before traveling this year,” he said.
With a file from CTV National News’ Annie Bergeron-Oliver and CTVNews.ca’s Michael Lee