P.E.I. passport office announcement coming within weeks, says federal minister

·2 min read
The wait for a passport by mail is currently 10 to 13 weeks. (Canadian Press - image credit)
The wait for a passport by mail is currently 10 to 13 weeks. (Canadian Press - image credit)

Prince Edward Islanders can expect to have their own passport office soon, says Karina Gould, the minister responsible for Service Canada.

Gould told Island Morning she does not consider it fair that Islanders have to travel to the mainland to visit a passport office.

"That's something that Islanders really should have," she said.

"What we're working on is trying to get passport services onto the Island. We don't have the office open yet but I'm hoping in the next few weeks that we'll be able to do that."

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press
Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

There are still some details being worked out, said Gould, so she can't provide exact timing.

As the service stands, Islanders must either apply for a passport through the mail, with a current wait time of 10 to 13 weeks, or travel to offices in Fredericton or Halifax — where the wait time for in-person service is one or two days.

'Completely overwhelmed'

Gould also addressed problems the service encountered in the spring, where people waited months for mail service and hours-long lineups just to get in the door of some passport offices.

Six hundred new people were hired in the expectation of increased demand as pandemic restrictions lifted, said Gould, but it clearly wasn't enough. That was partly because more people than expected applied through the mail service.

"The mail service got completely overwhelmed," said Gould.

"We also saw at the same time as people applying through the mail, a rush to passport offices for people who, maybe a little excited, booked their travel before having a passport in hand, and then going and requesting urgent service. So we saw these two waves come at the exact same time."

A new online system for passport renewals is also being developed, she said, which will both make renewing passports easier for Canadians and ease stress on the system. That system should be ready this fall.

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