Improvements In Canada’s Immigration Delays
The federal task force, which was created to decrease delays in service, has recently stated that after spending the summer handling the major lineups and waiting times that Canadians were facing at airports, passport offices, and those waiting for immigration applications to be processed, the situation is starting to look better. However, there is still a lot more to be done.
Per the task force co-chair, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, there’s still a lot of work to do. Sometimes, the immigration process is still not up to the pre-pandemic service level Canadians expect and deserve.
While providing an update on the progress made so far, the government confirmed the improvements made, which include:
- Hiring 700 new employees for passport offices;
- Reducing wait times for passport call centre;
- Arranging more passport ‘pick-up services and triage measures’;
- Employing 1,800 more security screening officers at airports;
- Reducing flight delays, cancellations and issues related to baggage; and
- Recruiting 1,250 new staff to handle the backlog and speed up the processing of immigration applications.
Miller accepted the fact that the issues experienced by Canadians this spring and early summer should not have happened and that, in some cases, the federal Liberals were slow in responding.
In evaluating what was the cause of this service delivery crisis, task force co-chair, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien stated that it was due to higher demands that far exceeded the federal government’s ability to respond. She added that this crisis is being experienced in other countries as well.
Ien mentioned an unparalleled rise in Canadians travelling, the effects of having to adjust to international travel restrictions and closing of borders, and the government’s reduced processing ability during the pandemic as the factors that contributed to the situation worsening. Task Force co-chair Marc Miller stated that the government is not looking to blame anyone, whether it’s the airlines or other unforeseen global events like the war in Ukraine putting a strain on government service demands, because most of the responsibility does lie on the Canadian government’s shoulders.
He added that there’s a long way to go and see how the administration can get that machinery of government back up and reach the service standard and then look at the long-term as to what the administration should do to fix the problem, whether it is regarding old systems that have not been improved and modernised for decades or whether it is more people.
He said that these measures had been taken over the summer to speed up adjustments so people could get their passports faster, but there is uncertainty about whether that’s the most practical way to provide a more systemic cure and break down the government’s ‘silos’.
This was all discussed in a press conference that was held alongside the cabinet ministers who have responsibility for handling the issues of long lines at airports as well as passport and immigration offices: Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, who is responsible for Service Canada; Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport; Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; and Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety.
All the ministers talked about the statistics and put light on how the situation is improving. The ministers said they would continue to work and see how they could further improve Canadians’ access to these essential government services.
While talking about the backlog and additional measures, the Immigration Minister stated that they are aware that the wait times are very long, and in many cases, they are required to address it and bring back the service standard that their customers, Canada’s future students, workers, permanent residents and citizens deserve and expect.
While answering the question about when Canadians can expect passport processing times to return to what they were pre-pandemic, Gould said those who have travel plans within 45 days and go to a passport office would get their passport within 10 days, except for any specific security or other complications. She added that the complications remain more with the mail-in application system, usually because these submissions don’t have a clear upcoming travel date.
She further added that they are making significant progress and hope to be back to usual service standards by this fall.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in late June, announced the founding of this task force, a committee of 10 cabinet ministers, declaring the wait times as ‘unacceptable’ and the delays Canadians have been facing with passport and immigration applications.
The prime minister gave the group the task of evaluating service delivery, identifying deficiencies and areas that need improvement, and making suggestions to enhance the quality and capability of government services.
The task force has had meetings 10 times since its creation and says it has been making modifications along the way but will also be making suggestions to the prime minister through the cabinet. Per Marc Miller, this is what will result in any improvements.
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