As Canadians start to travel again, trips are being hampered by long security lines, delays in processing NEXUS memberships, and a crush of people applying for passports.
Outside a passport office in downtown Toronto on Victoria St. Friday, people planning trips waited at least three hours in line on the sidewalk.
“Some people couldn’t wait so they left,” said Felix Suleu who waited at the front of the line at 1:30 p.m.
He arrived at 10:20 a.m.
“I have a funeral service that I have to attend in Cameroon next week. This is my first Canadian passport so I don’t know how it’s going to go.”
Braden Fox also waited holding his toddler son Ethan.
“It feels like the line hasn’t moved actually. The only movement has been people who have dropped out of the line,” said Fox who had also waited at least three hours.
He is trying to book a trip to Atlanta – his first trip in two years.
“I was told there were no more online appointments available. A woman up the line told me she’s been trying since February to get an appointment,” said Fox.
Service Canada said it has hired 600 more people to handle passport applications.
“Our teams are currently responding to a significant surge in demand for passports,” said a statement from Lori MacDonald, Chief Operating Officer for Service Canada
The government received about 69,000 applications in April 2021.
That compares to 261,000 in April 2022.
Renewing NEXUS memberships is also proving problematic for people looking to travel between Canada and the U.S. with advanced screening.
“The process is in complete disarray,” said Tim Dimopoulos, a member who only recently managed to renew.
“Booking an interview online anywhere in North America was near impossible. For those coming up for renewal or thinking of applying, brace yourselves for frustration and a very long process.”
The Canada Border Services Agency said it is working with its U.S. counterpart to “mitigate the impact on members caused by the extended closures of the enrolment centres.”
American centres only recently reopened.
Canadian ones still remain closed.
Traveller’s facing delays at Pearson — to due weeks of security staffing issues — has the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) demanding Ottawa step up.
“We call on government to streamline inbound public health requirements to avoid bottlenecks and thereby ensure the efficient flow of passengers through Canada’s airports.” said Deborah Flint, President and CEO, GTAA.
In the first three months of this year the GTAA has had 5.2 million passengers.
That compares to just 1.1 million in the same period in 2021.
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