Ottawa family’s Australian vacation in jeopardy amid major passport delays
An Ottawa family's summer vacation to see family in Australia could be grounded by lengthy delays to renew passports in Canada.
Kenton White was one of dozens of people who lined up before dawn outside the Service Canada office in Gatineau, Que. on Friday to secure a place in line to meet with staff at the Passport Office.
"We applied for our children's renewal passports back in May for a trip to Australia on July 1," White said.
"At the time when we applied, they said they would be ready on June 6. So we've tried to contact the phone, can't get through by phone, we filled in the form three times on the website but no response, so I came here at 5:30 in the morning to find out what the status of my passport is."
Speaking with CTV News Ottawa outside of the Service Canada office, White said officials told him the passports "might be done" by 1 p.m. on June 30.
"Of course, we're flying on the first so if they aren't ready then I don't know what we're going to do," White said.
"We've been playing by the rules, we've done everything that they've advised and we're still being let down."
The federal government has previously said staffing issues and an increase in passport applications are causing the lengthy wait times for passport renewals and new passports. The mail-in process for a passport is taking up to 45 business days.
"We’re working to deliver passports as quickly as we can. Due to high volumes, processing times are longer than usual," says a statement on the Passport Canada website.
"We’re experiencing very high call volumes right now. Wait times are longer than usual. If you do not have travel plans in the next 2 weeks, we suggest you wait to call us."
Families, Children and Social Development Minister Karina Gould said on Monday that the government is working to hire more staff to address the backlog.
White and his family are planning to travel to Australia to see family for the first time in four years, adding they've spent $10,000 on plane tickets for the trip.
"If we don't have the passports and we can't go, and Air Canada won't allow us to delay it a few days then we've lost that, then we've lost all the additional money for the hotels and visiting family in Australia. We haven't seen the family in four years because of COVID and all of the shut downs," White said.
Meantime, Munira Nurbhai is hoping to travel out of Canada on Wednesday, if she receives her new passport.
"I applied a couple of months ago and we're travelling next Wednesday," Nurbhai said while standing outside the Gatineau office. "I've been calling and calling and it takes about 90 calls, sometimes a day, to get through."
Nurbhai says that after waiting 10 days for a call back, they decided to visit the Gatineau office.
"If I can't have the passport in my hand I can cancel, but it's disappointing when you do everything right."
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Dave Charbonneau