Minister directs Service Canada to do more in urban centres to relieve passport delays

The minister responsible for passport services says she is directing Service Canada to do more in major urban centres where passport-processing delays are most severe.

In a statement issued Thursday, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould said the body is implementing new triage measures to provide a more “intensive, client-specific” approach – work that started in Montreal this week.

The tactic has also been adopted in Toronto and will expand to other major cities beginning June 27.

“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,” the statement reads.

Canadians have reported waiting hours outside passport offices as post-pandemic travel demand has ramped up. It’s even spurred some to hire a “freelance line stander” to weather the wait.

Earlier this week, Montreal police were called to the downtown passport office after a large crowd gathered to wait for appointments.

More than 150 people were in line at the Guy Favreau Complex around noon.

Gould said triage-focused staff will prioritize service to those with urgent travel needs within 24 to 48 hours.

Staff from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency are also assisting with passport processing. That’s on top of the 600 additional Service Canada staff who have already been hired to keep with up demand, and an estimated 600 more they plan to recruit.

“Public servants from across numerous departments are working overtime, evenings, holidays and weekends to help address the situation and deliver service,” Gould’s statement reads.

“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.”

The minister is slated to speak to reporters about the issue before the House of Commons’ question period on Thursday.

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