Canadians renewing passports endure lengthy wait times

With just days before her trip and without her son’s passport, Ottawa traveler Dianna Chepita wondered if traveling was even worth it.

“We weren’t excited about this trip at all,” Chepita told CTV National News. “For the past week or so, I just couldn’t bring myself to get excited. Preparation, yes, but no fuss.”

Chepita had already started renewing her children’s passports in February, sent the applications by post and only received her son’s on Wednesday.

“And our trip is on Saturday,” she said.

Her experience will sound familiar to many Canadians, some of whom have reported waiting in long lines outside passport offices as the federal government deals with a resurgence in applications.

After issuing just 363,000 passports between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, the number grew to nearly 1.3 million over the following year, according to Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees Service Canada.

Service Canada is also handling tens of thousands more calls, with more than 200,000 calls coming in daily, up from about 5,000 before the pandemic.

The high call volume comes as provinces and territories have eased many of their pandemic restrictions in recent months. The federal government also relaxed further border measures from Monday.

On April 18, Employment and Social Development Canada said the average processing time for passports was five business days when applied for at a specialized passport office and 25 when applied for at a Service Canada Center or by mail.

After many calls and a visit to a passport office less than a week before her trip, Chepita says she believes her persistence helped her get her son’s passport in the end.

“I feel very fortunate to have it and I’m also very grateful that my instinct told me to just keep standing up for myself and my son and not really trust the process but fight for it,” she said.

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