Are you still waiting for your passport?
Whether you've waited in a sprawling lineup outside of a Service Canada office for hours or you've anxiously counted down the days before a trip to receive your passport in the mail, you are not alone.
In response to mounting public outcry, the Canadian government announced Thursday (June 23) that it will introduce new "triage measures" to improve the client experience at passport offices across the country.
In a statement, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould noted that officials in her department have worked with Service Canada to find a solution to the long lineups.
“Service Canada has added staff, streamlined procedures and increased processing capacity to help deal with this unprecedented situation," she said, adding that "significant challenges remain."
Passport Canada: New features to expect
Service Canada is now "implementing measures to make waits at specialized passport sites more predictable and manageable," Gould explained. These specialized offices will implement new triage measures to create a more "client-specific approach."
The government rolled out the new measures in Montreal earlier this week and with "ongoing refinements, it should improve circumstances—especially the experience of those waiting in line," she added.
The measures were also extended to Toronto and Vancouverites can expect to see the new changes beginning Monday, June 27. The measures will be implemented in other cities across the country, too.
In the early morning, increased numbers of managers and executives are assisting and speaking directly with clients in order to triage lineups at specialized passport sites.
Canada passport wait times: triage methods
Triage methods will vary between locations but staff will focus on clear communication with clients based on their individual needs.
Priority will be given to clients travelling within the following 24 to 48 hours, while those with long-term travel plans will be directed to the most appropriate service channels.
"This includes making better use of the network of over 300 Service Canada sites, and ensuring all centres have the staff, technology and processing capacity to offer by-appointment passport service to clients with less urgent situations, who have been redirected to them through the triage process," Gould said.
Passport program delivery changes
Staff from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are now assisting with direct passport processing and have identified ways to process applications faster.
Canadians with urgent travel requirements who apply at specialized passport offices "are generally receiving their passports in time to travel," Gould explained. As of June 19, 96 per cent of people receive their passport within 10 business days of submitting an application in person at a specialized site.
"Coupled with additional streamlining of passport processing and printing, Service Canada is optimistic that these steps will lead to further improvements," she added.
The federal government also recently added a new feature that allows people to check the wait times at Service Canada offices across the country.
In early May, advertisements for "passport line holders" started popping up in online forums such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist Vancouver, and via personal websites. One of the most striking listings was asking a whopping $800 for an overnight waiting service at Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver.
Most recently, a Vancouver blogger went viral after she shared her experience flying to Edmonton to obtain her travel document. She told Vancouver Is Awesome the experience in Edmonton was "night and day compared to Vancouver."