(Ottawa) Passports requested in Montreal will be printed in Gatineau to reduce pressure at the Service Canada office in Complexe Guy-Favreau. Families, Children and Social Development Minister Karina Gould also promised that everyone in line on Thursday would receive an appointment coupon.
Updated yesterday at 7:09 p.m.
“Passport offices are not built to have hundreds of urgent requests every day,” she admitted before question period on Thursday.
The two largest passport processing centres, in Gatineau and Mississauga, have superior printing capacity. Passports required within 24 hours or more will be printed in Gatineau and sent to Montreal, which is about 200 kilometers away.
The printers at Complexe Guy-Favreau, in Montreal, will be used for people who need their travel document within 12 hours. “I hope it will take the pressure off,” said M.me Gould.
The government asked 10 managers on Thursday to inform people who continued to queue there. The minister said they had spoken to more than 200 people by 10 a.m. Thursday morning and had to stay there until midnight to take the time to brief each person.
They have been instructed to sort people into 12-hour shifts to serve urgently needed people first. This strategy is already underway in the Toronto offices and will be implemented in the Vancouver offices on Monday before being applied in all major cities across the country.
“Everyone will receive a coupon with an appointment,” assured the minister, specifying that it would be the same day for those whose trip is imminent.
Passport offices will be closed to the general public during the Saint-Jean-Baptiste weekend. Only people with an appointment will be able to access it from Friday to Sunday. Officials will be at work trying to catch up.
Travelers departing in a week or more will be directed to another Service Canada office to reapply for a passport. “They’re going to be given an appointment there too because I know the worry people have right now is that they don’t have confidence that they’re going to get their passports,” Ms.me Gould.
“We are making every effort”
However, the minister could not guarantee that everyone whose departure is in a few hours would receive their passports on time. “We are making every effort,” she said.
The situation had improved by the end of the day on Thursday, according to Frédéric Théoret, who was inside the Guy-Favreau Complex when we spoke to him. He was trying to obtain a passport for his son who is to leave on Saturday to take part in a soccer tournament in Portugal.
“People were passing through lines, looking at the departure date on the plane ticket and calling people who could get inside to get an appointment coupon,” he said.
Friends had taken turns overnight from Wednesday to Thursday to line up in the rain so he could get the document.
A flight attendant who was desperate to get her passport so she could return to work had contacted The Press to recount the steps she had tried since April without success. In the afternoon, a Service Canada agent finally called her to give her an appointment. She is now supposed to get her passport on June 30, the day before she returns to work.
The chaos outside the Service Canada offices prompted other travelers to buy a new plane ticket for the next day to ensure they would get a passport. This is the case of Elissa Fragiskos, who bought a refundable ticket and then canceled it.
I don’t feel good for doing this, but there was no other way to go.
She wanted to help her father, with whom she is going to Greece on July 2 and whose passport had to be renewed. The trip was originally planned for the summer of 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic.
She described a chaotic situation at the Saint-Laurent passport office, where she had gone the day before. “It all started because we were told in April that yes, we were going to be able to have it,” she said.
Minister Karina Gould heard about this scheme. It discourages people from using it.