(OTTAWA) No sooner had she promised that “yes” families will receive their passports in time for the upcoming summer vacation, Social Development Minister Karina Gould said she “hopes” the mountain of work that awaits civil servants will enable him to honor his commitment — and that’s without taking into account a possible strike.
“We are ready,” the minister said twice rather than once when asked about Ottawa’s plan to deal with the large number of renewals expected this year as the first 10-year passports expire in July. .
Service Canada has almost doubled its number of employees, increasing it from 1,365 in March 2022 to 2,631 at the end of February, in addition to accelerating their training, she indicated during a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons.
These reinforcements have also enabled the government to eliminate in January the backlog of passport applications which had culminated in chaos last summer. Now, passport processing and production is completed on schedule “99% of the time”.
Not only that, but passport renewals are “much simpler” since the information is “already in the system”, she said.
The Minister nevertheless recommends that Canadians plan ahead to apply for a passport or renewal if they know they will be traveling.
However, the rag is burning between Ottawa and its officials. No less than 120,000 of them who are members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are in the process of deciding on a strike mandate.
The form that a possible strike could take has not yet been decided. According to the union, it could be exercised by region on a rotating basis, unlimited, per day or otherwise.
“I can assure you that the government is having plans in place,” said Minister Gould, who was sparing in commenting on how Ottawa will provide service should the thousands of passport officials step out into the city. Street.
After a round of questioning, the minister was less optimistic about her promises when a reporter asked, “so there won’t be a problem.” “I hope so,” she replied, smiling.
During the press conference, the minister indicated that Ottawa is launching an online tool to consult the status of a passport application, provided an email address has been provided.
The information was widely requested, Ms. Gould said. In fact, of the 15.6 million calls received at the passport hotline between April and February, no less than 70% were related to the status of an application.
“This means that Canadians will have faster access to front-line employees who can serve them with their passport needs,” said the Minister.
Ms Gould said when she took office she found it “hard to believe” that the government did not allow such information to be viewed online.
The dedicated application status webpage is “a first step” and the government is working to set up an online passport renewal process, which is expected to be announced “soon, in government timelines”.