(Ottawa) Service Canada employees work on the public holidays of June 24th and March 1stah July to renew outstanding passports, but the offices will not be open to the general public, contrary to what the minister’s parliamentary secretary, Karina Gould, suggested on Monday. This clarification was made in the evening by the Minister’s Office.
Updated yesterday at 8:44pm.
“Service Canada staff will be working overtime to process passports and serve customers for urgent processing by appointment only on these bank holiday weekends,” Minister Gould’s spokesman Mohammad Hussain said.
“However, Service Canada Centers and specialized passport offices will not be open to the general public on June 24 or June 1.ah July, as they would normally do during the weekdays,” he added.
The government wants to avoid long queues in front of the offices, which are only open on these two long weekends for urgent individual appointments and passport printing.
New procedures are required
Officials are now picking from lines outside Service Canada offices people who need their travel document within 48 hours to give them an urgent appointment, the minister’s spokesman said. If you arrive in three or more days, you will receive a shorter meeting time.
During Question Time on Monday, followed by the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois, Parliament Secretary Ya’ara Saks indicated twice rather than once that civil servants would work those two long weekends.
“For the long weekends of June 24th and June 1stah July staff will be working to get Canadians their documents,” she said, answering a question from Bloc Québécois MP Alain Therrien about passport office hours.
It is stipulated that the police must intervene in the queues, no less.
Alain Therrien, MP for the Bloc Québécois
The press reported on Friday that people camping outside a Service Canada office in Laval had been evacuated by police.
He called for Service Canada offices to be open “seven days a week.” “The minister’s incompetence has reached unprecedented heights,” he denounced. When will they stop improvising and open offices in the evenings and weekends until the crisis is finally resolved? »
Mme Saks replied that staff “have been working overtime and all weekends,” before adding that they will be working the next two long weekends as well.
The Minister for Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, was not in the Chamber on Monday. She visited a passport processing center in Mississauga, Ontario to see what could be improved, her parliamentary secretary said.
She pointed out that 600 additional employees have been hired since September and another 600 are expected to be hired soon. Officials managed to process 10% more requests last week than in previous ones.
loss of efficiency
The lifting of health measures has prompted more people to travel after two years of the pandemic. People queue outside Service Canada offices and sometimes spend the night there to renew their passports to the extreme before starting their journey. Some have to cancel or postpone their departure entirely because they cannot receive the valuable document.
Passport Canada processes 75,000 applications per week, compared to over 90,000 before COVID.
Dominique Vien, Conservative MP
“We must authorize the return of on-site staff to the workplace and extend hours in all offices. Can the minister leave her press lines and give us real answers? asks Dominique Vien.
Cries for help came from everywhere
Adding to the confusion, the service that Service Canada offers to MPs’ constituency offices, which help citizens with their passport applications, was suspended on Friday. “Finally, we found out this morning that that email was a mistake,” said Mr Therrien, clearly annoyed. He said MPs were “overwhelmed by calls for help”.
Fifty additional resources have been added and forty more are in training to ensure we can handle the increased demand and volume [d’appels] to help those voters.
Ya’ara Saks, Parliamentary Secretary
She said more than 96% of passport applications are processed in person and people receive the valuable travel document within 10 days. “It’s better than international standards,” she added.
The federal government has gradually relaxed certain measures for travelers since April. Those who have been vaccinated will then no longer have to submit a quarantine plan when entering the country. The vaccination requirement for boarding the plane or train has been lifted since Monday.
- Number of passports issued since April
- Number of passports issued last week
Source: Ya’ara Saks, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Families, Children and Social Development