The passport crisis is now spreading to the four corners of the province and has stalled as hundreds more campers decided to spend the night outside a federal office on Tuesday.
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“It’s a miracle. I’m relieved and happy to finally have this simple piece of paper. There are real people inside who cried when they got it,” says Elli Peruch, proudly waving her passport.
Photo Erika Aubin
Elli Peruch got her passport on Tuesday… two and a half hours before her departure.
After two nights and more than 38 hours of waiting in front of the Service Canada office in the Guy Favreau complex in Montreal, she finally received the valuable document around 5 p.m.
But she was already starting another race against time, this time to get to the airport. Her flight to Italy, where she will visit family and friends, left promptly at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Others weren’t so lucky: “I’ve been here since [lundi] 7 p.m. I’m tired, we’re not really sleeping and we know it’s going to be the same tonight,” said Élise Gaudette, discouraged.
The mother is supposed to fly to Europe with her small family on Wednesday, “a dream trip” after two years of the pandemic.
Several campers have described a scene of chaos that occurred early Tuesday morning as security guards at the Guy Favreau complex opened the doors.
With kind approval
A bird’s-eye view of the chaos at the Guy Favreau complex on Tuesday morning in Montreal.
“There are about 300 people who entered the building without knowing where to go, without a clue for 3 hours” by the time Service Canada’s offices opened, Ms Gaudette explained.
“In the beginning, people followed a certain order. Then the security guys said you have to go downstairs for passes. So everyone started and stopped following the line. Everyone was tired and not really happy,” Maxime Renaud-Blondeau continued.
Lack of organization
For his part, Matthieu Messier returned home empty-handed on Monday after a night out in the open because the office was only taking requests from those going abroad in the next 24 hours.
“The website said ‘for departures in 24 to 48 hours’. No one on the spot gave me the information, so I wasted a night waiting for nothing,” he said.
He finally received his teenager’s passport to travel to France around 4pm on Tuesday. “I’m going to buy a 6/49,” he said as he walked, his camp chair slung over his shoulder.
“Most of the people who are here don’t want to put their feet in the water, they want to visit their loved ones,” emphasized Sabrina A.
After two years of pandemic, the nurse from Algeria has only one wish: to hug her mother and sister and rest with them before the next wave of COVID.
Photo agency QMI, Roger Gagnon
Several people from the greater Montreal area traveled to Chicoutimi, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean in hopes of obtaining their passports.
Residents of the greater Montreal area even had the idea of going to Saguenay in hopes of having better luck in that region. They were therefore hundreds, some from as far away as Laval, who gathered outside Chicoutimi’s office on Tuesday.
Minister in charge of the file, Karina Gould, assured in a series of interviews on Tuesday evening that numbered tickets would now be distributed to citizens waiting in line. The system is to be introduced in all passport offices in the course of the week. Between March and May alone, more than 350,000 passports were in arrears.
-With TVA News