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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Tensions rise in Montreal as travelers face indefinite passport delays. Nation World News

Tension flared outside the passport office at Montreal’s Guy-Favreau complex on Thursday after hundreds of travelers who had lined up for days for travel documents learned that the system for processing their requests had changed again.

Despite coming into effect from the federal government, a New ticketing system with due timing On Wednesday in Montreal, Service Canada employees threw passport seekers for a loop on Thursday morning by prioritizing passport seekers according to the time of their flight rather than the time of their appointment.

“Our emotions are through the roof, we’re trying to stay calm,” said Antoinette Corbeil, who, like many people, had been waiting in line for 36 hours in the rain.

A Woman Named Antoinette Corbeil Poses For The Camera In An Orange Jacket And A Beige Adidas Hat Holding A Piece Of Paper With The Number 31 Written Below It.
Antoinette Corbeil has been waiting in line for the past 36 hours. It said it was unfair that the first-come-first-served system was changed to give priority to those flying in the next 24 hours. (Jennifer Yoon/Nation World News)

On Thursday morning, some people had put up tents and tarps to avoid the rain while waiting for their passports. Portable toilets have been installed to facilitate the long wait.

As the office opened, Service Canada agents lined up each family, asking when they were flying and what stage their passport application was in. Priority was given to fliers over the next 24 hours, to the dismay of some who lined up overnight.

“We arranged ourselves according to our numbers last night … and they’re letting other people come before us. That’s not fair,” Corbeil said.

Until the past few days, waiters had taken matters into their own hands, implementing their first-come-first-served system to save people from queuing up. Eventually the police had to be called to control the crowd.

The fixed-appointment system introduced on Wednesday left hundreds of people going home empty-handed when Service Canada employees announced the passport office had reached its capacity for the day just after 9 a.m.

Karina Gould, the minister responsible for passport services, described the delay at Guy-Favreau’s office as the worst in the country.

“It’s absolutely insane. It’s inhumane for us to go through it,” Corbeil said.

A Large Tarp Is Held Up By Ropes Over People Waiting In Line Outside The Montreal Passport Office.
People waiting for passport appointments set up rain shelters outside Montreal’s Guy-Favreau complex. (Jennifer Yoon/Nation World News)

new triage measures

In a statement on Thursday, Gold said while Service Canada has added staff, streamlined processes and increased processing capacity to help deal with the situation, challenges remain and new processing measures are needed.

“Given the large crowds and lineups for Passport Services in urban centres, Service Canada is implementing new triage measures to provide a more thorough, customer-specific approach,” she wrote.

“While triage methods vary depending on circumstances, employees will be focused on clear communication to customers, prioritizing service to those in urgent travel needs within the following 24 to 48 hours.”

A Young Couple Smiles At The Camera, Woman Holding A Baby.
Florent Cohen, with his wife Monica Burtas and their five-month-old son, Elliot. Cohen has been waiting two days for a passport for his son in the rain, and I wish someone had told him how the triage system would be changing. (Jennifer Yoon/Nation World News)

On Thursday in Montreal, the new system pushed the line a little further and chanted “We are moving forward,“or” we are moving on,” was heard.

But people like Florent Cohen, who were once at the forefront of the line, now find themselves left behind. Trying to get a passport for her five-month-old son, she has spent the last two rainy nights in line, thinking it will be a first-come-first-served system like Wednesday.

He said that he wished someone had told him that today the system will be different.

“If I’ve done this for three days without taking anything, it’s frustrating, and I’ll probably get angry,” he said. “You’ve wasted energy and you try to understand… you know, a lot of questions because we’re tired.”

poor communication

After waiting in line since 3 a.m. on Tuesday, Jeremy Asselin got his passport on Thursday before a 2 p.m. flight to Arizona to visit his godfather.

He said people tried to pay him to cut the line in front of him, but no amount could compensate him for sleeping in the rain.

A Young Man Named Jeremy Asselin, Holding His New Passport And Wearing A Bright Green Jacket And Baseball Cap At The Back, Poses For The Camera.
Jeremy Asselin receives his passport after sleeping in the rain at 3 a.m. Thursday (Jennifer Yoon/Nation World News)

“They don’t know what we’re doing,” he said, describing how painful it was to sleep outside in wet clothes. He said he was lucky to be at the forefront of the line.

Dimitri Antonio had also been waiting since 3 a.m. Tuesday and hoping to be as lucky as Asselin before his 6 p.m. flight on Thursday.

He said he was unsure when he should expect to receive his documents because communication between passengers and Service Canada staff is “horrible.”

“There’s no leadership, no visibility, really no communication,” Antonio said, adding that he wants the federal government to provide more support to employees on the ground.

“They are clearly overwhelmed.”

look | The teenager described the devastation after she was forced to cancel the trip over a delay in passport:

Invu Michalsky Passport Wait V2.Jpg?Crop=1

Long wait for passport forces Montreal teen to cancel trip

Eli Michalski was supposed to go to Thailand with a friend, but didn’t get his passport despite applying 12 weeks earlier.

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