An Ontario woman says she’s devastated at the thought of being forced to cancel her family’s $35,000 trip due to delays acquiring passports for her two sons, especially after she followed all the rules.
Milton, Ont. resident Tammy Glendinning said the trip was gifted to her family in 2019 by her sons’ 84-year-old grandfather, who travelled the world after retiring from being a school principal.
“He said ‘I really want my only two grandchildren to do this trip, this amazing safari in Kenya, and I want them to do it while I’m still alive.'”
Then, COVID-19 hit and their trip was postponed.
Two years later, their dream of finally being able to go on a 14-day safari in Kenya has been plagued with concerns they’ll have to cancel because they mailed in their passport application instead of trying to cheat the system.
In April, Glendinning went to an office in Mississauga to get passports for her two teenage sons—aged 15 and 17—only to be told that unless she was travelling in 14 days, there was no point in lining up.
At the time, passport officers were being overwhelmed by customers whose applications were put in hold during the pandemic.
She said she was informed that, because her trip was months away, she should mail in her application and supporting documentation, including birth certificates.
Other than confirmation her credit card was charged at the end of May, Glendinning hasn’t heard from Service Canada and the trip is fast approaching.
The safari—with a base cost of about $35,000—is scheduled to start in less than three weeks on Aug. 9. Once the family gets the passports, Glendinning said they must also apply for a travel visa, which could take anywhere from two to 15 days depending on the embassy.
“It’s beyond frustrating,” she told CTV News Toronto. “I’m literally helpless here. I don’t even know what to do.”
Glendinning said she heard rumours that people were booking one-night stays in Buffalo in order to get their passports, but can no longer do that because all of the documentation she needs to apply for a passport has been sent to Service Canada.
“I followed the rules,” she said. “I did everything they wanted me to do. I can’t even get an update.”
When reached for comment, Service Canada said “after two years of travel restrictions, Canada is seeing a significant surge in demand for passports.”
“Service Canada recognizes that the increase has resulted in lineups and longer wait times for service, and we understand the concern this may cause for clients. Due to high volumes, processing times are longer than usual. We may not always meet our service standards as a result.”
Service Canada is advising anyone who needs a passport within two business days, and has proof of travel, to visit a specialized passport site in person.
For those travelling within 3-45 business days, walk-in services at one of the 35 specialized passport sites are recommended. These services may still take up to two weeks, plus mail time. Appointments are recommended, and proof of travel is required.
Anyone travelling in more than 45 days is being asked to apply in-person or by mail. In these instances, passports may take up to 13 weeks plus mail time.
Glendinning said she understands there are delays and staff are doing their best, but the radio silence her family is experience is causing a lot of anxiety.
She said she will be taking Friday off work in order to line up at a passport office in hopes of finding out where their application stands.
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