PEI

No passport office for Charlottetown, but faster service promised

Islanders hoping for a passport office — after Karina Gould, the minister responsible for Service Canada, said last week P.E.I. should have one — will have to wait.

About 4 weeks to be cut off wait times

In an interview last week Karina Gould, minister responsible for Service Canada, raised expectations for a passport office in Charlottetown. (John Badcock/CBC)

Islanders hoping for a passport office — after Karina Gould, the minister responsible for Service Canada, said last week P.E.I. should have one — will have to wait.

The federal government announced this week that 16 Service Canada locations, Charlottetown among them, will start offering expedited service under certain conditions.

If you have been waiting for a passport for 20 business days, and are travelling within the next 20, you will be able to apply to have the process transferred from the passport office to Service Canada to ensure your passport arrives on time.

"It's a matter of trying to spread out the processing from the full-service offices," said Charlottetown MP Sean Casey.

Further improvements to passport services are coming to Charlottetown, says Sean Casey. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"That would mean taking the processing time down to about eight weeks. And all too often we're seeing processing times of between 12 and 14 weeks, so it will gain people about a month."

People will also be able to transfer the process inside that initial 20-day window by paying a $20 fee.

A new kind of passport office

In an interview on Island Morning on July 25, Gould left many with the impression that an announcement about a passport office in Charlottetown was imminent.

"We don't have the office open yet but I'm hoping in the next few weeks that we'll be able to do that," she said.

Casey said further improvements to passport services are being planned for Charlottetown, but they will still come up short of the service offered in other provinces.

"The expectation that you'll be able to go there in person and get a passport the same day or two days later isn't one that's going to be met," he said.

"Minister Gould indicated that we would have better access to passport services. Certainly the impression was left that that meant a full-service passport office. The passport office that is being planned for Charlottetown isn't the same as what is there in Halifax and Fredericton."

The office being planned for Charlottetown will provide a 10-business-day turnaround, he said. That office is expected to be open within a month.

While this a step in the right direction, Casey said he will continue to fight for a full passport office in Charlottetown.

With files from Laura Chapin

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