People continue to post advertisements offering to hold space in Metro Vancouver passport lines weeks after exasperated locals shared photos of gargantuan lines snaking around Service Canada offices.
As travel opens up around the world, Canadians have flooded Service Canada with requests for passports. The agency has processed nearly 1.3 million passports between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022 — a sharp increase from the roughly 360,000 passports processed over the previous fiscal year.
Metro Vancouverites continue to face long waits at passport offices, with many of them being turned away after waiting upwards of eight hours. Lauren Skinner writes on Twitter that she was sent home after waiting for eight-and-a-half hours with an 8-month-old baby. She was told to come back the following day and that the lineup started at 6 p.m. in the evening, not in the morning.
In response, one man quips, "Like people camp out overnight? Does a passport come with the latest iPhone and Ariana Grande tickets?!"
Sharon Stewart took to the social media platform after she was issued an $80 parking ticket from Concord Pacific while waiting in line for a passport at Central City in Surrey.
Federal Passport Canada: "passport line holders"
In early May, advertisements for "passport line holders" started popping up in online forums such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist Vancouver, and via personal websites.
For many people, waiting in a long line for several hours is either impossible given their schedule or simply a frustrating inconvenience. Some of these individuals were desperate for an alternative to waiting all day long, which has prompted several individuals to offer to wait on their behalf for a price.
One of the most striking listings was asking a whopping $800 for an overnight waiting service at Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver. The seller's posting is still up on Facebook Marketplace.
Andrea Steinke writes: "If you don’t have an appointment to get your passport you need to be lining up at night to get your passport. But if you’re not up for it (understandably so), I will keep your place in the line for you so you can show up at 8:30 am and sleep the night!"
Other postings offer similar services, with prices ranging from $20 an hour to $360 for "a night to wait in line from 9:00 p.m. [to] 5:30 a.m."
Service Canada says it has seen a big boost in demand for passport renewals, which has made for long lineups and longer waits for documents.
The federal agency aims to process passports within 20 business days for mail-in applications, but right now the wait is averaging 26 days.
About 72 per cent of applications are processed on time, but some are taking much longer.
With files from the Canadian Press