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Canadian passport backlog should be cleared by end of summer, minister says


The federal minister responsible for passports was in Vancouver Monday and said she hopes to clear the backlog of applications that has led to frustrating delays for would-be travellers in the next four to six weeks.

In the meantime, people continue to line up overnight outside passport offices, hoping to have their applications processed before imminent international departures.

“It went around the block so it was kind of a wild experience,” Nelly Yousefi said about the line that formed outside Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver after she arrived at 3:00 a.m.

Her family is flying to Iran on Thursday and she still does not have a valid passport despite applying in early May.

“It was pretty frustrating. I was worried. Could I even go on my trip? At one point I was like, maybe I can’t even go,” she said. “I have to stay home and my entire family is going to go. We’re going to lose all the money.”

It’s a familiar story for many people trying to plan international trips.

During the pandemic, millions of Canadians let their passports expire and now many of those people are trying to renew their documents at the same time – which is causing lengthy delays.

"That is totally unacceptable,” said Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould, whose portfolio includes the passport file.

"We did anticipate a surge and that’s why since January we’ve hired an additional 600 passport officers. What we didn’t anticipate was the level of surge that we were going to receive.”

Passport officers get 12 to 15 weeks of training before they can begin processing applications.

With 500 expected to complete that phase in the next four weeks, Gould hopes most of the backlog can be cleared by the end of the summer.

She also says anyone travelling within 48 hours will still be prioritized if they show up at a passport office in person.

“But that’s not where we want to be,” she said. “Where we want to be is people getting their passports well in advance when they apply and that’s what we’re working towards in the next four to six weeks.”

As for Yousefi, she did see a passport officer on Monday after waiting for more than eight hours.

She was told she can pick up her new passport Tuesday – one day before her departure. Top Stories

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