Veterans, seniors should get deep discounts on passports, MP says

A Windsor MP wants to cut the costs of passports for Canadians, including making it free for veterans and half-price for seniors.

NDP MP Brian Masse also wants an audit of Passport Canada

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse thinks Canada should recognize its veterans with free passports. (Brian Masse/NDP/Facebook)

Canada's seniors and veterans should get cut rates on passports, says an NDP MP from Ontario.

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse tabled a private members' notice of motion in December that calls on the government to offer passports to veterans for free and to seniors at "not more than half price."

Masse wants the passport to be free for veterans "because they are great ambassadors."

He says the half-price cost for seniors older than 65 makes sense "because they are limited income."

The notices of motion:

[T]he government should recognize the contribution made to Canadian society by all of its seniors and make Canadian passports available at not more than half-price, to all Canadian citizens over the age of 65.

[T]he government should recognize and give thanks for the great sacrifices made by Canadian veterans in protecting our society and make Canadian passports available free of charge to all veterans of the Canadian forces.

Thanks, but no thanks

But at least one veteran, who is also a senior, doesn't think it's a good idea.

Past Commanding Officer Hardy Wheeler appreciates the sentiment but says "there's only one pot of money."

"I'd rather the money be put towards looking after veterans that are injured during their service, or for more training or equipment, so that the soldiers that do deploy, can come back safely. that's more important to me as a soldier," Hardy said.

Other veterans applaud the recognition.

Phil Berthiaume has spent more than three decades with the Canadian Armed Forces and appreciates the gesture.

"The cutting of the fees is one thing, that's nice, but it's more [about] the recognition and the appreciation for service to our country," he said.

Audit called for

Masse has also tabled a notice for motion that calls for an audit of Passport Canada.

"[T]he government should conduct an audit of the Passport Office to ensure that Canadians can acquire passports at the lowest possible cost and that passport processing fees do not generate surplus revenues," Masse's notice of motion reads.

Masse is concerned Canadians aren't getting the best value for their dollar and wants to ensure the sale of passports is not a revenue-generator for the government.

"We just think it should be revenue-neutral because the lower the cost, the more accessible the passport is. The government doesn't need to be making a dime on this," Masse said. "It needs to provide the service in a responsible, really good way — and they are doing that — but making it a profit, it increases the cost of it. We believe that's a barrier."

A five-year passport costs $120. Ten-year passports can be purchased for $160. A child passport (0-15 years of age) costs $57.

The House of Commons resumes later this month. Masse will raise the issues in the coming weeks.

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