Passport backlog causes Yorkton family to cancel trip
Janna-Lea Yawney and her family had bags packed for a trip to Texas. Friday morning, they were forced to cancel after waiting nearly two months for passports.
“Our passports hadn’t arrived. We’d applied for our children’s passport renewals, sent them away March 15 and we were guaranteed to have them back by April 22 and we still don’t have them,” Yawney said.
A backlog of passport applications is causing uncertainty and canceled plans for Canadian travellers. The number of passports issued this year is up 250 per cent as foreign travel resumes.
There are lineups at passport offices across the country and travel experts anticipate continued long waits.
“Summer travel should be back to pre-pandemic levels. The problem is the infrastructure at both airport terminals and passport offices won’t even be close,” said Martin Firestone, President of Travel Secure.
The federal government is advising travellers not to book flights until they have a passport in hand. Airports are hoping the issue is resolved soon.
“Much like travel restrictions, anything we can do to reduce these hopefully means more customers.” Said James Bogusz of the Regina Airport Authority.
Officials in Ottawa said they’re working to speed up the process as hundreds of new staff are being trained.
“We have put a number of initiatives in place to help deal with this. We have a simplified processing to replace expired passports. We’ve opened more client counters and passport offices,” said Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould.
Many passport applicants continue to face uncertainty.
“They said my passport is in Mississauga and has not even been processed yet,” said William Kirch.
Yawney said answers can be difficult to obtain.
“I’ve had numerous times to call. I’ve submitted some email inquiries, completed the requisition form to inquire where the passports are and I’ve not received a response,” she said.
The Yorkton family received a travel credit for the flight they were forced to cancel but lost money on hotel deposits. They’re still hoping to travel to the U.S. this spring if they can get passports in time.