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Scouts honour patience as passport wait times threaten ability to travel

Click to play video: 'Passport problems impact Edmonton scout troop before international trip' Passport problems impact Edmonton scout troop before international trip
WATCH ABOVE: Passport problems are still plaguing Canadians. Case in point, a group of Edmonton scouts who have been waiting for months to get their documentation. Morgan Black caught up with them just hours before takeoff – Jul 12, 2022

An Edmonton scout troop felt the impact of the passport problems still plaguing Canadians — just hours before take-off.

Members of 3rd Edmonton Scouts received their passports 18 hours before their flight’s departure to Finland.

The troop is traveling to Finland on a 17-day trip to gather with more than 15,000 scouts from around the world.

The group, which includes two adults and 11 youth, had been planning the trip for almost three years and had fundraised more than $40,000 to pay for it.

Seven of the teens and young adults needed new documentation and applied for passports back in March.

Group commissioner Tara Cerhit said none arrived.

“We followed all the rules and regulations. We made sure we had plenty of time. (The passports) were never processed. They didn’t follow through on delivery dates. We have delivery dates that are listed for the middle of April but we don’t have anything.”

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This week, the group started lining up outside Canada Place to get their passports in an attempt to save the trip, after learning the documents may be inside the building.

“The line-ups were atrocious. They were waiting and waiting and sent home twice because they weren’t traveling within 24 hours,” Cerhit said Monday. “I am in a real state of panic. I am nervous these kids are going to miss out on an adventure they deserve to have. It’s heartbreaking for the amount of effort.”

Scout Ellis Mangum arrived to Canada Place at 4 a.m. Monday in the hopes of getting his passport.

“I waited for 12 hours…and nothing,” he said.

Scout Niels Clintberg said the whole experience was “a bit silly, honestly”.

A sharp increase in demand for passports prompted the federal government to put a triage system in place last week in various cities — including Edmonton. It instructed those flying within 48 hours to head to a Service Canada site.

Read more: Feds aiming to clear passport backlog in next ‘4 to 6 weeks’: minister

Cerhit said she doesn’t believe the triage system helped her group — as she lined up again Tuesday at 1:30 a.m. in a last ditch effort.

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“What’s wrong with the system is it’s not functioning, plain and simple. It’s not a complicated activity, to fill out these forms. There’s no reason they should be waiting seventeen weeks for this.”

The seven members of the group got their passports just before 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Despite extreme delays and uncertainty for some, the federal government said the majority of Canadians are getting their passports on time.

“Where we want to be is people getting their passport well in advance when they apply. That’s what we are working toward in the next four to six weeks,” Minister Karina Gould, who is responsible for passport services, said Tuesday.

 

Click to play video: 'Triage system for backlogged passports underway in Calgary and Edmonton' Triage system for backlogged passports underway in Calgary and Edmonton
Triage system for backlogged passports underway in Calgary and Edmonton – Jul 4, 2022

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