Some Parksville Qualicum Beach residents, like others across the country, are frustrated by passport processing delays.
When Jill Zimmer took her passport to the Service Canada office in Courtenay in mid-March, she was told her expected mail-out date was April 13, but more than a month later, she is still waiting.
Since she had heard wait times were increasing, Zimmer thought she would give it a couple of weeks. But as the days went by, and with her June 19 cruise date fast approaching, she decided to look into what was taking so long. She visited the Nanaimo Service Canada location and was met at the door by an employee who told her there was nothing they could do for her because the processing times are so long.
Zimmer was told not to bother driving to Victoria to expedite the process because she is already in the system and it would not be allowed. If she does not receive her passport in time, she will lose the $2,700 already paid for her trip.
“Waiting this long isn’t acceptable,” she said. “I realize the difference between now and last year. People were not travelling, but of course the restrictions are lifted.”
Service Canada hired 500 new employees and added a new online booking tool, but the delays continue. Zimmer was unable to get through to anyone by calling Service Canada and eventually went to the office of her MP, Gord Johns.
“We’re getting inundated, absolutely swamped,” Johns said. “It’s a situation that we have raised, back in November, where our critic, our immigration critic wrote to advise, given the situation, to ensure that they increase resources and staff to accommodate the anticipated servicing needs.”
Johns’s constituency office staff has been able to help expedite passport processing for people in emergency situations, but “we’re not Service Canada,” he said.
He recommended people concerned about missing a travel date because of delayed passport processing contact his office so staff can advise and help them evaluate their situation.