A crisis is raging in several passport offices across the country, particularly in Quebec. Travelers have to wait for hours without receiving this important document for their trip.
François Gamache has to set off on a three-week trip to France on Thursday, specifically to attend the funeral of his father-in-law. Like thousands of Canadians, he had to renew his passport.
On Saturday, he contacted a Transport Canada officer for instructions on how to obtain his passport.
She told me that in Montreal it was almost impossible to process my file in a weekhe says.
The agent then suggests that he go to Chicoutimi, which he decides to do on Sunday evening.
When he arrived at the Service Canada office at 6 a.m. Monday morning, he quickly realized the situation was not right. He is told priority will be given to passports for travelers leaving the country within 48 hours.
Five days before his trip abroad, he decides to stay anyway, hoping it will be his turn.
30 hours later
After waiting in vain for several hours in the waiting room, François goes to the hotel in the evening to take a short nap.
He only stayed there for a very short time in order to sit in his waiting place again on Tuesday night.
Another difficult wait in an unfriendly environment, according to François Gamache.
In Chicoutimi we felt really bad because we were from Montreal, but at the same time I was told that in Montreal they would not process my file. […] I’m a Canadian citizen, I pay taxes so I have to feel bad about moving?
” There are seniors who spent 48 hours there in Chicoutimi. It was like 5 degrees overnight, it was really cold. »
As the wait for François Gamache continues, a local agent makes an announcement to everyone on Tuesday:
h, on ne pourra pas les traiter, on vous conseille [d’annuler] votre voyage.”,”text”:”même demain, les 24h, on ne pourra pas les traiter, on vous conseille [d’annuler] votre voyage.”}}”>Even tomorrow, 24 hours, we will not be able to treat you, we advise you [d’annuler] your trip
People were in tears. It was panicsays Francois Gamache.
At that time, one of his clients, with whom he was in long-distance communication, suggested that he go to Fredericton, New Brunswick, for his passport application.
[Il] told me he had heard that New Brunswick was processing.
After 30 hours of waiting in Chicoutimi, François Gamache decided to get back behind the wheel to try his luck in the neighboring province.
After a night in Témiscouata to regain his strength, François Gamache arrives at the passport office in Fredericton on Wednesday morning.
The waiting room is almost empty.
It’s like we’re in another country […] The security guards were super friendlyhe said.
It’s like exceptional customer service compared to being treated like cattle in Chicoutimi.
After a waiting time of 2 to 3 hours, he will be given his passport.
I was really exhausted and I was even very emotionalsays Francois Gamache.
I fought so hard to get it […] It is certain that my journey is saved.
” If there are currently too many Passport Canada officers in Fredericton and not enough in Montreal, it might make sense that people could access it. »
François Gamache estimates that he spent almost $1,000 on hotel, food and gas during this trip.
Because he owns a business, he was able to telecommute with his laptop throughout this mishap.
But not everyone is so luckyhe says.
A national political crisis
François Gamache is far from the only one who recently faced the bureaucratic maze to get his passport.
With health restrictions lifted and the summer season underway, there are large crowds at Service Canada offices.
Last week, Minister for Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould said 1,200 staff have been hired or are in the process of being hired to help deal with the deluge of inquiries pouring through Service Canada’s offices.
She says there will be no compensation for travelers who are forced to cancel their plans.
There was also talk of loaning out about 200 staff from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Global Affairs Canada.
François Gamache is very critical of this Service Canada management, saying it was a foreseeable situation.
It is not true that all inquiries are answered within 24 hours […] There are plenty of them in Chicoutimi [de demandes] that have not been processed and [les gens] had to cancel their triphe said.
The Trudeau administration is aware that Service Canada has been going all out for years. Basically, it was logical that this crisis would come about, it was foreseeable.
In Montreal, a police officer patrols a queue at one of the Canada Service Centers. Access to the media was restricted: security forces argued that a special permit was required to enter federal territory.
With information from Louis-Philippe LeBlanc