Canadian passport offices took two years to return to pre-COVID staffing

Good example of meaningless reporting with no context and adding nothing to existing articles flagging departmental business plans and union comments on the expected upsurge:

Have passport, will travel post-COVID.

Unless you live in Canada where it took more than two years to restore pre-COVID in-person staffing levels at passport offices despite the feds being warned of an increase in travel document demand, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

Inquiry Of Ministry data, requested by Conservative MP Dan Albas (Central Okanagan-Similkameen, B.C.)., show as late as this past summer more than 11% of staff continued to work from home.

On March 1, 2020, right as the COVID shutdown began, the passport office had 831 employees at public service centres.

By Jan. 1, 2022, only 757 were on the job, which is a 9% reduction.

Passport offices did not reach pre-pandemic staffing levels until all service counters were reopened on May 9.

The Inquiry data has not explained why there was a failure to address demand for passports that led to five and six-hour lineups at Service Canada offices and three month waits for mailed applications.

“We are doing everything we can,” Social Development Minister Karina Gould said July 23.

However, a June 23 briefing note called Passport Productivity And Staffing Measures said it knew last summer it should prepare for an increase in applications.

“In anticipation of increased volumes Service Canada began implementing a staffing plan last July,” it said.

However, the Inquiry said numerous passport offices had fewer staff in January 2022 than during COVID-related shutdowns starting in March 2020.

The Inquiry said prior to the pandemic in January 2020 the passport office issued 229,392 travel documents with monthly processing falling to 2,100 in May 2020.

Last month, 240,980 passports were issued.

“I completely understand the frustration Canadians are facing right now,” Gould said earlier.

Source: Canadian passport offices took two years to return to pre-COVID staffing

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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