Marie-Josée Alain was scheduled to travel to the U.S. on a business trip this week — but until Monday morning, she didn’t have a passport.
The Beauce, Que., resident was waiting on it to come in the mail, but “unprecedented” Canada Post backlogs delayed its arrival.
“If my passport did not arrive today or tomorrow, I was in big trouble,” she told Global News, explaining she faced the possibility of missing her trip entirely.
“The level of stress, you really feel like you are being held hostage because there’s nothing you can do.”
Alain said her passport was mailed out on Nov. 27 by Xpresspost and should have taken a couple days. But Canada Post mail tracking updated the shipment’s progress daily, noting, “delivery may be delayed due to labour disruption.”
Here’s what Alain’s daily updates looked like:
She explained that Canada Post customer service wasn’t entirely helpful, either.
“Their communication was generic responses that you reply to everybody, because they got a lot of people that are really upset,” Alain said, noting that she got an apology from the organization, but only after the passport was in her hands.
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Alain is just one person who faced uncertainty over travel plans amid Canada Post delays. Several other Canadian residents also tweeted similar concerns, and received nearly the same reply.
Canada Post recently informed customers that holiday deliveries will be delayed this year due to its rotating strikes, as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday backlogs.
In a statement on its website, Canada Post explained that it is dealing with “unprecedented backlogs” and has indefinitely suspended its standard two-to-three-day delivery guarantee.
“Deliveries will continue but be delayed during the peak holiday season and into January 2019,” the website says in regard to parcels.
International parcels will be even more delayed, with backlogs not expected to clear until March 2019.
It added that letter backlogs should be cleared by Christmas.
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Canada Post has special holiday plans in place, with 4,000 seasonal workers, some staff working overtime and 1,400 additional delivery trucks.
Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton told Global News that those waiting on passports can contact customer service for more detailed tracking information.
“We are working closely with the Passport office at Service Canada to try and minimize delays for these important items,” he said in an email.
“If any customer is experiencing a delay with receiving their passport through the mail, we ask that they contact Canada Post customer service as soon as possible so that we can track the item.”
In an email statement to Global News, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada explained travellers should try to plan around the delays when possible, and apply earlier than normal if they need documents.
“If a client has already applied by mail and requires a passport urgently, they must contact the Passport Call Centre (1-800-567-6868) to make arrangements,” it read.
For Canadians travelling in the next six weeks, the government said applying for a Canadian passport in person at a passport office can help mitigate mail delays.
“We also offer pick-up, urgent and express services at Passport Service Offices for an additional fee,” the government statement explained.
It added that passports can also be sent through other couriers.