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In-Your-Service

MP deluged with passport renewal delay complaints

Passport renewal delays

In Parliament, bills are meant to be carefully brought under the microscope of elected representatives to determine whether they are relevant to deal with real problems, while government services should be there to serve the public.

However, unfortunately, we are seeing the opposite. While the government is looking to cut down on scrutiny to pass its legislation quickly, the services it is responsible for have never been more slowly provided.

The government’s latest tactic to control Parliament its recent passing of Motion 11, with support from the NDP, granting the government new powers. It extends sitting hours in the House of Commons with no notice and without an agreed to quorum of MPs being present, meaning Liberal MPs don’t have to show up to debate their own legislation during this time.

Motion 11 can abruptly interrupt the work of Parliament's committees by cancelling them. Committees study a whole range of important topics to Canadians and their work will be delayed.

It also gives the prime minister the power to adjourn the House of Commons until September at his pleasure.

We’ve seen the prime minister halt the work of Parliament before, with prorogation in 2020 to end the investigation into his dealings in the WE Charity scandal and then with the snap election in 2021.

The new powers effectively also give the government the ability to speed up the passage of a host of new laws. They've done this already by moving to cut off debate on the expensive omnibus Budget 2022, and the online “censorship” Bill C-11, both of which went to a vote to move the legislation along with little debate.

The irony isn’t lost on me that the government is therefore censoring debate on a bill dealing with censorship.

Transparency in our laws and accountability to all of Parliament are not bugs in the system. They are features of our democracy and are in place to ensure we pass good laws, not quick laws.

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On another topic, with so many looking to finally travel, passport renewals are seeing high rates of applications and slow times for delivery.

My constituency office has received a huge amount of correspondence from residents about their difficulties in getting their passport renewed.

I've heard from constituents stuck for hours on the phone and in line-ups only to receive no assistance. There are reports of people being paid up to $50 an hour to hold spots in lineups.

One local situation particularly struck me from a mother who applied for renewals for her and her family in early March and was told she had plenty of time to receive the passport in time for a family trip in May. Service Canada was telling MPs at that same time there would be delays.

Another situation was a local senior, without a computer, who was turned away from a Service Canada office because he didn’t bring in forms accessed online and there were none there for him to fill out. My constituency team was pleased to serve him and assisted with printing off the forms he needed at my office.

Now families, who did the right thing and applied early, still stand to lose out on their passports and are cancelling long-anticipated trips at great cost and disappointment. I will continue to press the government to remove mandates so all can travel as well.

This isn't the fault of Service Canada employees who the minister has said are working long hours and weekends to help Canadians as fast as they can. It's the fault of the government, which was so ill-prepared for what was a very predictable uptick in demand considering the few renewals that occurred over the last two years. A surge in passport renewals was to be expected.

The government is simply not moving swiftly enough to ensure Service Canada has the resources to truly serve our growing community here in Kelowna-Lake Country.

If you need any assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out. 250-470-5075 or [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is the official Opposition’s critic for Small Business Recovery and Growth.

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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