The minister in charge of delivering Canada's passport services says the backlog of applications that piled up when travel reopened following the pandemic has "officially" now "been completely eliminated."
In a press conference and statement 21MAR, Karina Gould also announced the launch of a new online Passport Application Status Checker.
According to the ministry, the online tool allows Canadians who have recently applied for a passport to check the status of their application quickly and easily. In addition to providing convenience for passport applicants, the government says that shifting status inquiries to an online tool will free up front-line staff, which in turn speeds service.
The ministry says the announcement comes as a result of "learning the lessons of a very challenging period, and applying them for the future," with developments like the online status checker "setting up the passport program to be more reliable, more flexible, and more capable of serving Canadians effectively for years to come."
Service Canada says that, not only has the post-pandemic backlog been completely cleared, it adds that, since OCT, 2022, passport service delivery has returned to pre-pandemic standards. That is: 10 days to process in-person passport applications received at a specialized passport office and 20 days for applications received by mail or dropped off at a Service Canada Centre.
According to Service Canada, it is delivering most passports by its 10- and 20-day targets, achieving a 96 per cent and 98 per cent rate for complete applications, respectively. The agency is attributing its recovery in service standards to "additional staffing, increased overtime and improved efficiency."
In the last year, Service Canada has implemented changes that it says provide faster, more convenient passport services for Canadians closer to their homes.
This includes the launch of the 10-day passport pick-up service at 13 Service Canada Centres across the country. Service Canada says it is exploring the feasibility of adding this service to other Service Canada Centres across the country.
Canadians can apply for a passport at these locations and receive it after 10 business days. Once issued, the passport can either be mailed or be picked up in person. Since the launch of the new service in AUG, 2022, the 13 Service Canada Centres offering 10-day passport pick-up service have processed over 66,000 passport applications, according to the government.
Since 01APR, Service Canada says it has issued over 3 million passports. It expects up to nearly 5 million passport applications in 2023–24. Those numbers are partly due to renewals of the first cohort of Canada's 10-year passports, which, as Open Jaw reported, are due to expire in JUL, 2023.