Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, attended the Service Canada office at the Frontenac Mall for an announcement regarding passport issuing services locally.
Alongside Mayor Bryan Paterson, MP Gerretsen made the announcement, on behalf of the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. As part of Service Canada’s roll-out of “a variety of new measures to improve passport service delivery and decrease wait times for Canadians, as it works through unprecedented demands,” Kingston has been selected as one of four new 10-day passport pick-up service locations, Gerretsen announced.
“The passport expansion at the Service Canada office in Kingston means that those who need their passport for travel, or other urgent matters, in the next 10 business days can now apply and receive it back by mail, or pick it up in person, without having to drive to passport offices in Ottawa or Toronto as they have been doing,” Gerretsen told Kingstonist following the announcement.
“This makes it significantly easier for those living in Kingston and the surrounding areas to access speedy passport services.”
Indeed, concerns and complaints about wait times for obtaining new or renewed passports have grown as steadily as those wait times throughout 2022. Kingston residents have increasingly reported issues with passport services through Service Canada – issues due to increased demands across the country, according to Employment and Social Development Canada. However, the new services being introduced currently are helping to address these issues, the federal government explained.
“The triage system introduced this summer in 17 of our 35 passport offices has made a significant impact in reducing lineups and redirecting Canadians to the appropriate means to access service,” Employment and Social Development Canada said in a press release the same day as Gerretsen’s announcement.
“The average wait time at call centres has also improved, going from a peak of 108 minutes in April to 28 minutes last week.”
According to the federal government, Service Canada has issued 912,236 passports since the beginning of April this year. Beginning the week of June 20, 2022, triage measures were implemented in 17 passport offices nationwide and, for the week of August 22 to 28 alone, Service Canada has issued 54,667 passports.
“The expansion of pick-up sites will allow many Canadians who need to pick up passports to do so closer to their homes. Service Canada is fully committed to providing passport services within 50 km of the homes of Canadians,” Employment and Social Development Canada stated.
Minister Gould echoed that message.
“Service Canada is working tirelessly to identify and implement solutions that not only improve the speedy delivery of passports, but also improve the service experience for Canadians,” she said. “We will continue to make our services more accessible for all Canadians.”
The following cities were selected as new passport pick-up locations across Canada:
- Sudbury, Ontario
- Lethbridge, Alberta
- Kingston, Ontario
- Sherbrooke, Quebec
According to Employment and Social Development Canada, Canadians can apply for and pick up their passports at these locations effective immediately.
“This morning I was very pleased to announce, on behalf of Minister Karina Gould, that the Kingston Service Canada Office will be permanently designated as a passport pick up location and begin offering 10-day passport pick up service with proof of travel or need,” Gerretsen said in a Facebook post around noon, following the in-person announcement. Within three hours, that post had over 780 ‘likes,’ and more than 100 comments, all seemingly pleased and in support of the news.
Kingstonist reached out to Mayor Paterson to hear his thoughts on Kingston being chosen as one of the four 10-day pick-up locations.
“Not only is it great news for our residents, but I think it was a wise decision given our geographic location,” Paterson shared. “It will serve a lot of surrounding communities and save a lot of people time and money.”
“There are so many reasons people travel; business, pleasure, to see family and friends, and lots more,” he continued. “As we learned through the pandemic, anything that hinders travel has economic consequences and personal consequences, and we want to do whatever we can to prevent those losses.”
“Having more people and locations addressing the need will only help alleviate the backlog and streamline the process. Having recently encountered my own issues trying to renew a passport, I think it’s great news.”
In addition to the existing passport offices offering pick-up service, Canadians with proof of travel can now both apply and request in-person pick-up of their passport at a total of eight Service Canada Centres, the federal government explained. What sets these eight Service Canada locations apart from the other Service Canada locations is their ability to offer 10-day service – Canadians can apply for a passport in one of the eight locations and their passport will be available in 10 business days, either by mail or by in-person pick-up.
“I am grateful Kingston has been selected as one of the locations for expanded passport services – our city is a catchment area for many of the surrounding rural towns and municipalities, and being able to provide a variety of passport services to these areas from our Service Canada location will allow for a less burdensome process for all those living in and around the city of Kingston,” Gerretsen expressed.
Those who need their passport in less than 10 business days need to attend a passport office that offers ‘Express’ or ‘Urgent’ pick-up services, the Government of Canada said.
And with new services being offered, does this announcement also translate to job creation here in Kingston?
“Yes, this announcement does mean Kingston’s Service Canada is currently growing their staff team to respond to the service expansion,” Gerretsen shared.
“I would certainly recommend people reach out to them directly if looking for employment opportunities.”