Long waits continue at B.C. passport office despite government pledge to speed renewals

Click to play video: 'How other countries streamline the passport process' How other countries streamline the passport process
Huge lineups are the usual scene at passport offices across B.C. The backlog from the pandemic and staffing shortages are to blame at a time when everyone is looking to get away. As Aaron Mcarthur reports, other countries are turning to online applications – Jun 28, 2022

Despite new triage measures, the line outside the Surrey passport office stretched out to King George Boulevard on Tuesday morning.

People at the end of this line — travelling in July and August and not wanting to leave things until the last minute — chose to waste a day trying to get a passport.

Compare that with the experience of B.C. resident Ruairi Spillane, who renewed his passport in 15 days.

The Irish/Canadian dual citizen logged on to the Irish government website and 10 minutes later had uploaded his photos, updated his address and paid with a credit card.

Read more: After long wait times, a B.C. woman found it faster to fly to Edmonton to replace her passport

“The new online process works very, very quickly,” Spillane said of the Irish system.

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The document was on his Canadian doorstep two weeks later with zero hassle.

“This is the one thing the Irish government has done really well,” Spillane said.

“The pandemic pushed the government to offer this to everyone.”

Read more: New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays

Obviously, not every B.C. resident has dual citizenship with Ireland — or any other country that might have a streamlined, online passport renewal system.

The Canadian government has announced streamlined application processes to help speed up the backlog but online applications aren’t disappearing anytime soon.

The government said it has contracted IBM to develop a digital application process so Canadians can pay fees and upload photos securely.

But the project is still in a pilot phase and there is no timeline for a wider-scale rollout.

The people waiting in that line in Surrey on Tuesday just want someone to help them as soon as possible.

Any decision to make improvements to the system will be guided by a new task force appointed by the prime minister.

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“We know service delays, particularly in recent months, are unacceptable,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

“We will continue to do everything we can to improve the delivery of these services in an efficient and timely manner, and this new task force will help guide the work of the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.”

There is no timetable yet for those improvements.

Click to play video: 'Passport nightmares continue in B.C.' Passport nightmares continue in B.C.
Passport nightmares continue in B.C – Jun 24, 2022

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