According to the Government of Canada, Canadians, and those who want to visit, work, study, or start new lives in Canada, deserve high-quality and efficient government services that are accessible, timely, and make their lives easier.
Since June 2022, the ministerial task force established by Prime Minister Trudeau to improve government services, particularly passport processing, immigration, and airport delays, has met regularly throughout the summer to identify priority actions and outline short- and long-term solutions that they say will better serve Canadians.
Today (Aug. 29), the task force co-chairs, Ministers Ien and Miller, were joined by Ministers Gould, Alghabra and Fraser, to provide an update on the work undertaken in recent months to address service delivery issues affecting Canadians.
The task force discussed the underlying pandemic-related reasons for the significant surges in demand for travel and for other government services, which have been far bigger than anyone anticipated.
According to the task force, these unprecedented increases in demand are a global phenomenon and have contributed to delays and problems not only for Canadians but for citizens of other countries around the world.
Service Canada improvements
Minister Gould highlighted the important measures being taken to improve passport processing, including:
- A significant increase in the Service Canada workforce, with over 2,000 employees now providing passport services to help deal with large increases in demand;
- The expansion of simplified renewals of passports to include adults who have had a passport issued in the last 15 years;
- A new triage system has been implemented in metropolitan areas to manage lineups and ensure that Canadians with imminent travel requirements receive their passport in time;
- The expansion of passport pick-up service, which is now available in nearly all passport offices and in four Service Canada Centres. In the coming weeks the service will be expanded to nine more Service Canada Centres; and
- The expansion of passport services to 24 scheduled outreach sites in Ontario, Québec and Atlantic Canada, with more to be announced in the coming weeks, to help meet the passport needs of rural and remote communities.
The airports situation
Minister Alghabra highlighted the significant action that the Government of Canada has taken in collaboration with industry partners to reduce traveller wait times and congestion at Canada’s largest airports, including:
- Hiring 1,800 Canadian Air Transport Security (CATSA) screening officers across airports since April;
- Participating in over 20 meetings with the senior leadership of airports and airlines of all sizes across the country to ensure ongoing collaboration and continued action that will help reduce delays for travellers;
- Transport Canada-led meetings every week with airlines, airports, CATSA, NAV CANADA, CBSA, and PHAC to find and address bottlenecks; with over 20 meetings having been held to date;
- To date, adding 12 new eGates, 4 dedicated NEXUS eGates and 30 new primary inspection kiosks (PIKs) at Toronto Pearson International Airport to further facilitate entry and expedite traveller processing;
- Granting exemptions to allow new screening officers to work while training to get more officers on the ground at airports;
- Tripling the number of Transportation Security Clearances issued over the last year, to support the rapid on-boarding of new employees in the sector;
- Improving pre-board security screening wait times across the country. From August 18 to 21, most passengers – 85 per cent – were screened within 15 minutes. This was an improvement from 79 per cent for the first week of July; and
- Seeing improvement in the number of aircraft being held on the tarmac at Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport. One week in May alone, more than 370 aircraft were held, but by the third week of August, that number had dropped to just 47 aircraft.
The Government of Canada says it is working hard to improve the delivery of services that Canadians rely on every day.
The task force will continue to drive action to implement short-and-and longer-term solutions that will reduce wait times, clear inventories and improve the overall quality of service to Canadians.