PEI

Passport delays leaving some Islanders 'frustrated, panicked and angry'

Charlottetown's MP says he is hearing from a significant number of Islanders experiencing delays getting their passport applications processed. 

Service Canada faces huge backlog as people finally ready to travel

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey said his office can check on the application status of a passport, but it can't speed up the process. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The number of Islanders experiencing delays getting passport applications processed is something Charlottetown MP Sean Casey says he's never seen before. 

"An unforeseen, unprecedented volume of urgent requests and a lot of people extremely frustrated, panicked and angry over the processing times," he said.

"The springtime is always busy, but what we have is basically triple that because people didn't travel last spring or the spring before. And now everyone is looking to travel."

From April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 Service Canada said it issued 363,000 passports. Between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 it jumped to 1,273,000. 

According to Employment and Social Development Canada, the average wait time for those applying in person at a passport service site is five days. Those who apply at a Service Canada Centre or by mail are looking at 22 days. But Casey said he is hearing from people who have been waiting up to three months. 

"I did expect that this might happen," Casey said. 

"People haven't had a reason to look at their passport for the last couple of years, all of a sudden [they] look at it and it's time to renew."

Passport applications more than tripled in the last year, according to Service Canada. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

For those waiting, he said his office does have a direct line to request the status of a passport application but it won't speed up processing time. 

And for those thinking about applying, he has just two tips. 

First, leave yourself lots of time for the application to be processed. And second, "if you don't follow tip No. 1, then on exactly 25 business days from the date of travel make plans to go to Fredericton or Halifax."

But ensure you have an appointment, he said, or risk getting turned away.

He also shared one request for those who are feeling frustrated.

"My staff and the constituency office really are doing the best they can with what they have and some of the complaints and the anger and the belligerence that has been directed towards them. It really isn't fair," he said. 

"So I would take the words of the great Dr. Heather Morrison ... please be patient and kind."

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