Many Canadians are reporting long delays and wait times at passport offices as the federal government works to process nearly a million more applications over the past year.
After issuing just 363,000 passports between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees the Canada Service, says this rose to nearly 1.3 million over the following year.
The government said Service Canada is also dealing with tens of thousands more calls, with more than 200,000 received daily compared to 5,000 before the pandemic.
CTVNews.ca asked Canadians to share how processing delays have affected them and their travel plans. Responses were emailed to CTVNews.ca and not all have been independently verified.
Among responses from people across the country, many reported having to cancel or reschedule their vacations amid long wait times.
As of Friday, many of those who contacted CTVNews.ca have still not received their passports, despite some applying 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 his friends left without him for the trip earlier this month.
“I live 450 kilometers from the nearest Service Canada office and have had several unsuccessful attempts to contact the passport office about the status of my passport application. All I can do is wait and hope it arrives soon,” he said. .
As of Thursday, Ratcliff said he still hadn’t received his passport, “more than two months” since he applied for it.
“I’m worried it might take another month, or maybe even two, to arrive. If that’s the case, I’ll have to completely cancel any plans to meet up with friends,” he said.
Josh Monden says he and his wife planned to travel to Cuba or Mexico in late April, but had to cancel their plans due to delays in passport processing.
Monden said they had an appointment at their local passport office in Peterborough, Ontario. and presented the documentation together with the valid passports for its renewal. He says the clerk reviewed all of his information, took the payment and submitted the applications.
Monden says it’s been 45 business days, since Thursday, since then and they still haven’t received their passports.
As their trip neared, Monden says they returned to Ontario Service to follow up in person, but were told to call the toll-free number on their receipt.
“I went ahead with the call, waited hours to get through, the call randomly dropped at times and we had to try again. After finally speaking to someone, all they could tell us was that it was under review. No more could be given explanation,” he said.
“They said we could pay an additional fee of $110 to speed up the process, but there’s no guarantee with that.”
Monden said they won’t rebook his trip until the passports arrive, but he hopes they will do so before his Sunwing travel credit expires in January 2023.
GROWING FRUSTRATION OVER 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 now she may have to cancel her upcoming honeymoon.
Although her current passport was valid and not about to expire, Rowe wanted the documents changed to show her name as a newlywed. She said that she didn’t think it would take long for a simple name change request.
“I ha[d] to apply for a renewal, which is a brand new application just for a name change and since I couldn’t take time off work to travel to a service center, I had to mail in my application along with my current passport and my original . birth certificate,” Rowe explained.
She says she currently has “no idea” where her paperwork is, whether it has been received or is being processed.
Rowe said he changed shifts at work last Friday to drive 120 kilometers to his nearest Service Canada to see if he could get an update in person. She was turned away and told to call the national center’s toll-free number.
“The number they provide is essentially useless – you get an automated message saying the lines are busy. I have up to 50 calls today alone and will continue to try every day until I get through,” Rowe said.
“I’m essentially completely out of options.”
Rowe is supposed to leave for her honeymoon in three weeks, but she has yet to receive her new passport. She said that she should be excited about this trip, but instead she is “extremely stressed.”
Calgary, Alta. Resident Wone Yip says that he applied for a passport renewal during the first week of March. Yip said his children were inviting him to the Paul McCartney concert in Seattle on May 3.
“My bank statement indicated that the fees were processed, so I was hoping to get my passport in time,” he explained.
Yip said he called Service Canada “over 200” times up to the day before his flight with no luck and had to cancel the tip. As of last weekend, he still hadn’t received the new passport from him.
Christine Miner says that she and her husband had plans to go to Spain to visit their son last April. However, their passports did not arrive in time for the trip.
Miner said they applied for our passports on February 21st and arrived on May 4th.
“That was much longer than the 25 business days for processing,” he said, adding that they rescheduled their trip for June.
Ilnur Haustein says he has spent several days on hold with Service Canada and in person at his local passport office, trying to get answers as to why he still hasn’t received his new passport after submitting the application in early March.
Haustein, who lives in Burnaby, BC, booked a flight to Kazakhstan on May 7 to visit his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in four years, the last two due to pandemic restrictions. He says she had to cancel the trip due to “government unpreparedness.”
“The problem here is not that the issuance of the passport at the national level is being delayed, but how the office handles us… They are not transparent, they do not tell the truth, they give false hope, and then… they do it as if it is our fault. ,” he said.
EXPERT ADVICE ON PASSPORT DELAYS
As anxious Canadians look to travel after two years of pandemic restrictions, one expert says long wait times to renew passports will be the “new normal” for those taking vacations this summer.
Because Canadians were advised to avoid all non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin Firestone, president of Toronto-based travel insurance agency Travel Secure, says people weren’t looking at their passports. as often as before and without knowing it. documentation expires.
Given long wait times, Firestone said it’s best not to book a trip until you have your renewed passport in hand.
“Even paying doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get an appointment and get that passport in two days. So that adds to the list of the new normal that we’ll call it,” he previously told CTV’s Your Morning.
If a flight is delayed or canceled and the reason is within the control of the airline and is not related to safety, travelers are entitled to “a specific standard of treatment, compensation and rebooking or refund” under the Protection Regulations. Canadian air passengers.
However, if Canadians book international travel and don’t have their passport at the time of departure, Firestone says they will be forced to change their flight.
“There is no insurance in the world that will pay for trip cancellation because you don’t have a passport… so you have to be wise and get organized before you travel this year,” he said.
With an archive by Annie Bergeron-Oliver of CTV National News and Michael Lee of CTVNews.ca