Although the issue is already getting less attention in the media, the situation in our passport offices has hardly improved. Our members continue to work days, nights and weekends to resolve the crisis. A crisis caused by the Department’s poor planning and management errors, which we saw coming months ago and could have been avoided if our warnings had been heard.
Certain politicians and media are pointing the finger at Service Canada workers. Clearly, passport officers are doing an exceptional job in the circumstances. Their work ethic and professionalism are beyond reproach. They are working tirelessly, putting in overtime while bearing the brunt of the public’s frustration.
Unfortunately, the damage is done, and this crisis won’t be resolved overnight. And it will leave a lasting mark not only at Service Canada, but also in other departments.
The union has been sounding the alarm since the fall. We demanded that Service Canada employees loaned out to support other departments during the pandemic be brought back. We asked that over 400 new agents be hired. Since the beginning of the crisis, we have urged the Department to recall its retired employees and to open offices only for 24-hour passport requests, and later 48-hour requests. All our demands have been ignored.
The Trudeau government recently announced a series of measures that, in reality, are all just smoke and mirrors. We need concrete solutions. Senior leaders and the Minister need to consult the union and members in the field. Public service workers need support and they need it fast. We will continue to demand better conditions for our affected members and solutions to this unacceptable crisis for all Canadians.
Yvon Barrière, regional executive vice-president