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Canadian travellers saddled with uncertainty amid passport delays

Chris Vale emerged from a Scarborough Service Canada location Thursday feeling a surge of relief. Clutched between his fingers was the passport he and his wife had applied for weeks ago.

The document is for their 13-month-old little girl. They travel in a matter of days, meaning the process of getting the passport came down to the wire.

“It’s great to finally have this in hand. It’s been a long process,” Vale told Global News. “It’s been about nine or ten weeks now.”

Vale and his family are travelling to the east coast and detouring through the United States.

His wife spent hours on both the French and English phone lines, looking to expedite the process. When she finally got through, Vale says they learned that their daughter’s application had never been looked at before that moment. He tells Global News they submitted it nine weeks prior.

“That’s when we were actually able to get the process moved up to a two-day,” he explained.

From April 1 to the end of June, Service Canada received more than 808,000 applications, which is roughly 166,000 more than it received during the same period in 2019.

Passport delays leave Canadians frustrated, running out of time for travel plans

Families minister Karina Gould acknowledged during an interview with Global News that more needs to be done, and quickly. Gould has gone on record saying she is confident the government can clear the backlog in four to six weeks, or by the end of the summer.

Many people Global News has spoken to say they have experienced a lack of communication and remain unaware of where their applications stand.During an interview with Global News last week, Minister Gould said the government was working on a notification system that would allow them to provide status updates to individuals who provided their contact information.

“Part of the challenge was that we didn’t have enough resources to enter those applications into the system in a timely way, and then that slowed everything down,” the minister said during an interview this week. “So now we have more passport officers coming onboard to take those passports, do the evaluation, do the assessment, and then get them issued and printed and sent out the door.”

In a release issued July 19, the government says that for the week of July 4 to July 10, staff had worked 9,349 hours of overtime. Since April 1, Service Canada has issued 556,769 passports.

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