Lack of walk-in service at immigration office concerns Yukoners

Aileen Maningas, vice-president of the Canadian Filipino Association of the Yukon, says people wanting in-person assistance at the province's immigration office are only given an appointment after calling a toll-free number, and many don't have time to wait.

People wanting in-person assistance must call ahead in advance

Aileen Maningas, vice-president of the Canadian Filipino Association of the Yukon, says people wanting in-person assistance from Citizenship and Immigration Canada are only given an appointment after calling a toll-free number. (CBC)

Immigrants in Yukon are raising concerns about the lack of walk-in service at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office in Whitehorse.

Among other things, the one-person office helps with citizenship testing, permanent resident card pickups and immigration interviews.

Aileen Maningas, vice-president of the Canadian Filipino Association of the Yukon, says people wanting in-person assistance are only given an appointment after calling a toll-free number and many don't have the time to wait on hold.

"They're too busy," she said. "They have two or three jobs and they cannot stay on the phone to use their 1-800 number." 

A Whitehorse immigration office that was shut down in October 2012 offered walk-in service. It was closed as a result of federal budget cuts.

MLA Kate White, Yukon NDP critic on immigration issues, says she's not surprised.

"I mean this is another example of the Harper Conservatives cutting access to northern communities," she said. "This is not the fault of the public servant." 

All Citizenship and Immigration offices in Canada now offer in-person service by appointment only.

According to an e-mail from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, immigrants needing in-person help must now call the 1-800 number and a call centre agent will give them an appointment if the situation "justifies" one.

The e-mail says the walk-in service was cut to modernize communications.

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