Canadian passport applications, renewals unavailable amid federal workers strike

Apr 19 2023, 6:24 pm

The nationwide Canadian federal workers strike that began today will have a major impact on passport applications and renewals, according to the federal government.

Karina Gould, minister of families, children, and social development, says that as a result of the labour disruption, a majority of Canadians will not be able to apply for or renew a passport.

“By law, passport services are essential and a priority only in emergency or humanitarian situations,” she said during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

The “very limited” services will only be available at passport offices or at Service Canada centres that are consolidated passport offices.

Gould defined humanitarian and emergency situations as the following:

  • Passport clients at risk of financial hardship
  • Passport clients who rely on travel as a source of employment, and whose income security will be jeopardized without access
  • Passport clients who must travel for medical reasons, or who’ve had a death or illness in the family, and whose situation is deemed urgent
  • Passport clients deemed urgent on compassionate grounds

“Passport applications that do not meet these criteria will not be considered essential and will not be processed,” she stressed.

Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) announced at a news conference Tuesday night that 155,000 federal workers, including many from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Treasury Board, would walk off the job today.

This comes after weeks of contract negotiations with the government failed to come to an agreement.

Now more than ever, workers need fair wages, good working conditions, and inclusive workplaces. And it’s clear the only way we’ll achieve that is by taking strike action to show the government that workers can’t wait,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president.

Gould says that a prolonged strike would create a backlog of passport applications that would need to be processed once it’s over.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the bureau that manages Service Canada locations, currently has a sustainable file inventory of about 160,000 10- or 20-day passport applications.

It receives a total of about 85,000 a week, and process a little more than that.

According to Gould, if the ESDC loses a week of processing time, tens of thousands of files in that inventory will move out of service standard and become a backlog.

“The longer we are in this position, the worse that problem becomes,” she said. “It would take some time to resolve.”

Passport applications aren’t the only things that’ll be affected by this strike.

With CRA workers on strike, tax season will be heavily impacted. Despite this, the CRA has “no plans” to extend the tax deadline (taxes are due April 30, 2023, by the way).

For more information on how the strike could affect you, click here.

Isabelle DoctoIsabelle Docto

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