The lineups outside passport offices are long and soon-to-be travelers are getting impatient. To help combat the ongoing issue, Service Canada has created a triage system that is intended to help reduce wait times.
This new system will see managers and staff periodically work their way through the lines to get those with urgent travel plans — within 24 to 48 hours — processed first.
Shauna Peters was waiting at a passport office with her teenage daughter Kirstin on Monday. Shauna is hoping to fly to Las Vegas on her already booked flight on Tuesday morning.
“(It’s) stressful, incredibly stressful and frustrating,” Shauna said. “I called the helpline and they gave me two options, (one was) to call a 1-800 number, and I called there and it disconnects and says they are overloaded.
“The other option is a link which I have tried twice, so there are no options but to come here and wait.”
“I’ve accepted it a week ago,” Kristin added. “If I don’t go, I don’t, but if I do, then it’s a miracle.”
However, no miracle was needed. The new triage system got them to the front of the line at the south Calgary location. But the wait continues for those not travelling immediately, and by lunchtime, the line was nearly wrapped all the way around the Service Canada building.
Keegan Baillon was another person who was frustrated to be waiting in line on Monday to renew his passport.
“Everything shut down due to COVID-19 and our government didn’t realize the demand wouldn’t go away,” Baillon said. “This is ridiculous.”
Brittany Wilcox said she’s trying to get new passports for her children after theirs expired.
“I hope it’s just in and out,” Wilcox said. “My kids are sitting in the car watching Netflix, so I’ll call them to the line once we get closer to the door.”
Scott Cripps is in line to check the progress of two of his children’s expired passports. He said he mailed in their renewal forms a few months ago and hasn’t heard anything back yet. He added the family has a trip booked for July, 23.
“We are planning on going to the states,” Cripps said, “We are down to weeks now, so I am hoping for some answers.
“I think what would have been nice is more communication from Passport Canada when you have applied and submitted months in advance if there was some way of tracking it online yourself.”
The triage system has already been implemented in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. However, those cities are still reporting continued wait times.
Federal government officials said staff are processing tens of thousands of applications and renewals every week across the country and have hired more staff to help get things back in order.