A new feature on the Passport Canada website shows wait times for office visits.
Hundreds of Montrealers camped outside through the weekend for a chance to get their passports on Monday morning. Passport Canada is facing an overwhelming demand for travel documents since pandemic restrictions lifted, which has caused months of unprecedented processing delays.
Many soon-to-be travellers lined up outdoors for over 24 hours along the strip mall near the Saint-Laurent office on boulevard Marcel-Laurin hoping to get a chance to enter when it opened at 8:30 a.m. Some were spotted wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags, slumped in camping chairs or resting in tents.
Last week, Montreal police told passport campers to stop queueing outside the government offices and threatened tickets for those who didn't comply.
\u201cToday 5AM @PassportCan Marcel Laurin. ppl were waiting since Friday to get in to submit their application!\n\n@RebeccaZandberg @KateDubinski @SeanFraserMP\u201d— Armin Morattab \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Armin Morattab \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1655720811
Due to the backlog, people leaving the country within 24 to 48 hours who show proof of travel are being prioritized by Passport Canada staff. While offices have aimed to provide same-day service since May for those most pressed for a passport, there's still no guarantee they'll receive one in time.
"Wait times are far from acceptable, and we know many people have been put in very difficult and stressful circumstances," said Minister of Children, Families and Social Development Karina Gould last Monday.
She said the federal government is looking at ways of simplifying and automating the passport program.
Service Canada has brought on about 600 new employees to help with the increased demand since the start of the year and is looking to hire 600 more.
There is also a new feature on the Passport Canada website that shows wait times for office visits.
"We have adjusted the information on our website so Canadians can know what to expect. Despite the increased demand 72 percent of Canadians who apply for a passport currently receive it within 40 working days. 96 percent of Canadians receive their passport within ten working days of submitting an application in person at a specialized site," said Gould.
Canada is not alone when it comes to the passport chaos. Australia, the U.K., and the U.S., all have processing times for a new passport that range from 6 to 11 weeks, she said.