Quebec travelers are still having to costly cancel their trips, contrary to claims by Federal Minister for Passport Administration Karina Gould, who again offered conflicting advice.
Petya Mateva was due to leave Canada at 7pm on Wednesday to visit his family after more than three years in Bulgaria. Camped out in the long line at Montreal’s Guy Favreau complex to get her son’s passport since Tuesday morning, she sees her hopes of flying away for a few hours…flying away.
“Like good citizens, we submit our application two months in advance and then wait. We decide to call to see what’s going on. We are told that we need to be there 24 hours to 48 hours before the flight. But that’s not what works. First come, first served,” she said Have to. “Or we will be told not to do it [l’achat de] our trip before we get our passport and then we need proof of travel to get a passport. Make a decision ! »
She loses two tickets and $4000 in this adventure that ends badly. “We’re not just losing tickets. We don’t know what to do. We wait here, we ask ourselves questions, we make scenarios. I work in a factory. Our opening hours are fixed. My vacation is next year. Maybe my parents won’t recognize me when I see them again. »
Faced with missing their flight, many early in the morning decided to throw in the towel and skip the line. The line stretched across two street corners on Wednesday night, the first day of the launch of a ticketing system presented as a solution to endless administrative chaos.
“People who have emergency travel who are leaving in 48 hours will be given their passports,” Minister for Family, Children and Social Development Karina Gould said at the microphone of Radio-Canada’s morning program in Montreal. “I know that in most cases the person receives [son] passport if necessary [elle a] Proof of travel. »
“That’s wrong,” replies Éric Boissonneault, Vice President of the Quebec Travel Agencies Association. “There are people who have lost their journey and others who will lose it. This applies all the more to the next two long weekends. »
Éric Boissonneault regrets that the absence of a passport is not a “ground for cancellation” accepted by airlines. Unless the customer has negotiated insurance or travel credit to extend the departure date with these companies, “it’s not their problem.”
The bitter icing on the cake, in his eyes, is still government fees of more than $100 for “rush” processing of passport applications. “We should remain a bit embarrassed,” he interjects.
Minister Gould made repeated appearances before reporters on Wednesday. She reiterated that delays at Montreal-area offices were the worst in the country, with queues reaching 1,000 people each day. She promised to set up “a team of managers” to monitor queues, inform travelers and prioritize those departing in the next 24 to 48 hours.
She specified that the delays are explained in particular by the fact that 85% of the applications registered today concern first passports, either from newborns, recent immigrants or citizens who have never intended to travel here. In the press, she criticized travelers who tried to get their document at the last minute.
“You know, it’s always better to make sure you have your passport in hand [pour planifier un voyage], but I understand these are extraordinary times,” she said. She later said that people who had to cancel a trip were not entitled to compensation because “the website makes it clear that we recommend that you have a passport before you travel”.
However, as it turned out The duty In early June, it’s simply not possible to get an appointment at certain Montreal passport offices unless you have a ticket for the next day or two, according to an informal rule absent from the website. The minister initially contradicted this information in the plenary hall before admitting to elected officials on Wednesday that “we have a different strategy for people who travel longer than 48 hours”.
It also closed the door on paying compensation to travelers who were forced to cancel their plans. “No,” she told reporters when asked if that possibility should be considered.
“Tickets” that fly away
The minister announced on Tuesday evening that a system of “tickets” would be put in place to make it easier to manage waiting times. Around 80 tickets were finally distributed to the first in line on Wednesday morning. After this forward movement, “we haven’t made any progress at all,” he confirmed Have to several traveling patients.
To manage the mass of citizens, a spontaneous organization took matters into their own hands. Good Samaritans have created an official queue list to ensure order is maintained when the morning mob rushes to snag one of these tickets. Some bring cots, chairs, water or food for their new queue friends. A power strip was installed. There is only one toilet left, note the next one to enter the passport office.
The evil of patience does not stop at passes. The thunderstorms that hit Quebec last Friday disrupted flight schedules at Montreal Airport. “It has remained complex ever since,” says Anne Marcotte, director of public relations at Aéroports de Montréal. She advises completing your file in the ArriveCAN application before going to the airport so as not to slow down the process and being there at least three hours in advance.