Canadian government provides update on immigration and passport task force

Canadian government provides update on immigration and passport task force

Government spokesperson confirms that an Ottawa taskforce has made suggestions for solutions to the application backlogs with IRCC and Service Canada.

On June 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proclaimed the creation of a task force to judge service standards for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), passport applications and Canada’s airports.

This task force was in response to what he deemed to be “unacceptable” backlogs in these services.

At the time, IRCC had a backlog of 2.4 million individuals expecting their applications to be processed.

In an email response to CIC News, a representative from the workplace of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, has confirmed that since June the task force, made from a large group of federal ministers, has met weekly to spot service gaps and areas for improvement.

IRCC backlog is up to 2.7 million individuals

IRCC’s backlog of candidates grew considerably throughout the pandemic and process times have slowed.

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To give candidates a sensible plan of however long it’ll regard their application to be processed, the updated IRCC interval tool shows how long it’ll regard applications to be processed in each IRCC line of business. IRCC continues to lag most of its service standards.

However, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told CIC News in June 2022 that with additional staff and additional investment in technology and digitization, he is optimistic that almost all service standards are possible by the end of 2022.

“My sense is by the top of this calendar year, new applications coming in can have the sort of certainty that we’ll be able to meet our service standard and other people are dealing with 60 days or six months or twelve months, not an undetermined period of time.”

New passport pick-up offices opening
Service Canada is presently facing an unprecedented swell in passport applications as pandemic-related travel restrictions have relieved. Canadians are forced to wait in hours-long lines and process times are unsure. As a result, the task force has introduced many new measures that are presently in effect, or are soon.

One of these measures is that the introduction of 4 new passport pick up offices. the government recently proclaimed that new passport pickup locations are opening in Trois-Rivières, Quebec; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Charlottetown, PEI.; and red deer, Alberta.

According to the spokesperson, the task force recommends opening approximately 20 new application and pick-up locations in total. Minister Karina Gould says these locations will process passports in nine or ten business days. Each new passport pick-up will be within 50 kilometers of most Canadians, which may alleviate some of the long lines in other locations and many will have extended service hours.

The government also invested $85 million in the 2021 Fiscal and Economic Update to help minimize the backlog of applications and long wait times. Much of this budget has gone towards hiring an additional 500 new passport officers as well as 319 Citizen Services Officers. Additionally, the government is retraining existing staff from other federal agencies to process passports.

Other measures
Canadians who are renewing a passport may be eligible to take advantage of a simplified renewal process in which those with passports that have been expired or less than 15 years, or have had their passports lost, stolen or damaged, may only have to submit two photos, two references, the application form, and fees, rather than mailing in proof of citizenship or finding a guarantor.

In the long term, the task force will be exploring options that will allow people to submit applications online as well as enable over 300 Service Canada centers to process passport applications. However, there is no timeline given for these initiatives to take effect.

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