“I remain preoccupied with the long, stressful and uncomfortable waits for Canadians who are seeking passports. Over the past weeks and months, I have directed officials to leave no stone unturned in improving this situation, and to implement solutions quickly.
“Recently, Service Canada has made some progress in making lineups at specialized passport sites more manageable and predictable, particularly in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver. This has included active and client-specific triaging early in the morning every day. Local staff are focused on providing clear communication to all clients awaiting service, which has contributed to more fair and orderly queues, and better prioritization of urgent needs.
“As of July 4, this approach will also be implemented at specialized passport sites in Calgary and Edmonton. Service Canada staff continue to adapt and tweak this triaging approach to meet specific local needs, and extend the approach along with lessons learned to other cities.
“To give clients a more comfortable experience while dealing with this difficult set of circumstances, Service Canada’s teams of regional staff have put additional amenities in place. Staff have provided water to those waiting in line, waiting areas with better shelter and offered additional facilities including restrooms. While I do not pretend to believe these small steps make the lengthy waits acceptable, I will continue to direct staff to do all they can to create a more hospitable environment for those who are seeking passport services.
“Today, Service Canada began publishing weekly data updates to give Canadians a clearer picture of the current passport volume it is handling. This will include the number of current requests, the number of passports issued, and telephone wait times. This builds on Service Canada’s online publication of approximate wait times at specialized passport sites. I will continue to insist on the highest standards of transparency and clear communication from Service Canada as we navigate this surge.
“Service Canada is continuing to hire and train more staff. Already, Service Canada has hired approximately 600 new employees this year, and will continue to hire up to 600 additional employees, along with continued internal reassignment of staff to work on delivery of passport services.
“I have also met with the new task force on Services to Canadians to discuss how we can improve the processing of passports and identify short- and longer-term solutions. The task force will make recommendations to ensure Canadians from coast to coast to coast receive the highest quality of service. It will focus on reducing wait times, clearing out backlogs, and improving the overall quality of services provided to Canadians.
“Canadians deserve efficiency, courtesy and clarity when accessing critical government services like passports. With these steps, along with a continued focus on improvements wherever and whenever they can be put in place, the Government of Canada will create a better experience for clients. I want to assure Canadians that the Government is taking all necessary measures to address this situation as it evolves and that the Service Canada teams continue to work diligently to find and implement solutions to these challenges.