(Ottawa) Although the passport crisis that made headlines over the summer is now a bad memory, the Trudeau government is preparing to face another period of very high demand for this precious travel document in 2023 .
The month of July will mark the expiry of the first passports issued for a period of 10 years. The additional staff that were hired to overcome the passport crisis last summer will therefore be maintained in anticipation of another busy period next year, indicated the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, who is also responsible for Service Canada.
“In July 2023, it is the renewal of the first block of 10-year passports. So, if people know they’re going to travel and know that their passport is about to expire, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the winter to do so. It’s a less busy time,” explained the minister in an interview with The Press.
Next year, we anticipate an increase in demand because there will be this renewal period for 10-year passports.
Karina Gould, Head of Service Canada
Mme Gould did not have specific statistics about the number of valid 10-year passports that should be renewed next year. But this type of passport has become a popular option among adults. The other option is a passport valid for five years, which is also the only one available to children.
A committee set up
At the height of the crisis, at the end of June, hundreds of desperate travelers lined up for days outside Service Canada offices, including Complexe Guy-Favreau in Montreal, in the hope of getting their document in time for their summer vacation abroad. Some went so far as to camp in front of these offices, or leave Montreal to go to a less busy office in Saguenay, and even as far as Moncton, New Brunswick.
After two years of the pandemic and restrictions on international travel, Canadians rushed to airports in droves. During the health crisis, many had failed to renew their passports or submit an application for their children. As a result, the federal government was unable to meet the high demand. A committee made up of about ten ministers was set up to tackle this crisis and the problems that were disrupting other essential services, including the processing of visas and other documents issued by the Ministry of Immigration.
What caused the crisis was not a strong demand to renew the passport. In at least 90% of the cases, it was for the first passports, either for new Canadians, or for children who were born or for families who had the desire to travel after two years of COVID.
Karina Gould, Head of Services Canada
According to Mme Gould, Canadians’ habits have also changed. Before the pandemic, 80% of people renewed their passports in person. “After the pandemic, it is the opposite. People now send their renewal application by mail and we did not have the capacity to respond to all these requests. We had to reorganize how we do our work to respond to the new habits of Canadians. What is important to me is that when the habits of Canadians change, we must also change our system. »
The Minister says she is relieved to see that the situation has returned to normal after several weeks of efforts, the hiring of 1,300 additional employees (the workforce has been doubled) and the opening of new offices in several regions of the country.
“The situation is completely different from what we experienced in June. People can go to any office in the country to apply for a passport and they will receive their passport within 10 days. So it’s a complete return to normal. Even people who send their passport by mail will receive their passport in about 20 days, which is the normal time,” the minister said.
She said Service Canada should be done processing summer backlogs by December 31. “So we are really on the right track. »
“I would like to say that this will never happen again in the future. We don’t know exactly what the future holds. But what I can say with confidence is that Service Canada and the passport section have better tools today to respond to such a situation in the future. »
- More offices
- In all, 13 new offices offering the 10-day passport service were opened across the country during the crisis, including three in Quebec (Sherbrooke, Rimouski
Source: Service Canada