Len Miller

Ministers provide update on work to improve govt services

eAwaz Local News

Ottawa – Canadians, and those who want to visit, work, study, or start new lives in Canada, deserve high-quality and efficient government services that are accessible, timely, and make their lives easier. On June 25, 2022, the Prime Minister announced the creation of a new ministerial task force to help improve government services, with a focus on reducing delays around passport processing, immigration services, and at Canadian airports. The task force has been meeting regularly throughout the summer to identify priority areas for action, and outline short- and longer-term solutions to better serve Canadians.

Today, the task force co-chairs, Ministers Ien and Miller, were joined by Ministers Gould, Alghabra and Fraser, to provide an update on the work undertaken in the recent months to address service delivery issues affecting Canadians. The task force discussed the underlying pandemic-related reasons for the significant surges in demand for travel and for other government services, which have been far bigger than anyone anticipated. These unprecedented increases in demand are a global phenomenon, and have contributed to delays and problems not only for Canadians, but for citizens of other countries around the world.

Minister Gould highlighted the important measures being taken to improve passport processing, including:

  • A significant increase in the Service Canada workforce, with over 2,000 employees now providing passport services to help deal with large increases in demand;
  • The expansion of simplified renewals of passports to include adults who have had a passport issued in the last 15 years;
  • A new triage system that has been implemented in metropolitan areas to manage lineups and ensure that Canadians with imminent travel requirements receive their passport in time;
  • The expansion of passport pick-up service, which is now available in nearly all passport offices and in four Service Canada Centres. In the coming weeks the service will be expanded to nine more Service Canada Centres; and
  • The expansion of passport services to 24 scheduled outreach sites in Ontario, Québec and Atlantic Canada, with more to be announced in the coming weeks, to help meet the passport needs of rural and remote communities.

Minister Alghabra highlighted the significant action that the Government of Canada has taken in collaboration with industry partners to reduce traveller wait times and congestion at Canada’s largest airports, including:

  • Hiring 1,800 Canadian Air Transport Security (CATSA) screening officers across airports since April;
  • Participating in over 20 meetings with the senior leadership of airports and airlines of all sizes across the country to ensure ongoing collaboration and continued action that will help reduce delays for travellers;
  • Transport Canada-led meetings every week with airlines, airports, CATSA, NAV CANADA, CBSA, and PHAC to find and address bottlenecks; with over 20 meetings having been held to date;
  • To date, adding 12 new eGates, 4 dedicated NEXUS eGates and 30 new primary inspection kiosks (PIKs) at Toronto Pearson International Airport to further facilitate entry and expedite traveller processing;
  • Granting exemptions to allow new screening officers to work while training to get more officers on the ground at airports;
  • Tripling the number of Transportation Security Clearances issued over the last year, to support the rapid on-boarding of new employees in the sector;
  • Improving pre-board security screening wait times across the country. From August 18-21, most passengers – 85% – were screened within 15 minutes. This was an improvement from 79% for the first week of July; and
  • Seeing improvement in the number of aircraft being held on the tarmac at Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport. One week in May alone, more than 370 aircraft were held, but by the third week of August, that number had dropped to just 47 aircraft.

Minister Fraser highlighted how Canada is working to strengthen its immigration system and reduce application backlogs, with a focus on addressing labour shortages, improving client experience and reuniting families. This includes:

  • Hiring up to 1,250 new employees by the end of the fall to increase processing capacity and tackle the backlogs in the short term;
  • Modernizing and streamlining our operations to make Canada’s system more sustainable in the long term;
  • Welcoming over 300,000 new permanent resident admissions in 2022 by August 22, reaching the milestone earlier than in any previous year;
  • Issuing over 349,000 new work permits from January 1 to July 31 this year, compared to approximately 112,000 issued during the same period in 2021;
  • Finalizing almost 360,000 study permits between January 1 and July 31, 2022, compared to about 306,000 finalized in the same period in 2021;
  • Approving over 216,000 applications for the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel from March 17 to August 24, 2022 for Ukrainians and family members looking to find safety in Canada;
  • Introducing application status trackers for citizenship and some permanent residence applicants to have timely information on their files, which will be expanded to more clients in the coming year; and
  • Publishing monthly data on our website to keep Canadians up to date on our progress.

The Government of Canada is working hard to improve the delivery of services that Canadians rely on every day. The task force will continue to drive action to implement short-and-and longer-term solutions that will reduce wait times, clear inventories and improve the overall quality of service to Canadians.

The task force is making progress on how to better deliver government services for Canadians that are accessible, timely and efficient. This includes working together to provide Canadians with the high-quality services they need and deserve. We are changing the way we do things to meet Canadians where they are, while also taking into account our new realities.” – Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and co-chair of the Service Delivery Task Force

“Canadians deserve and should expect the efficient delivery of services by their government. It is also important to recognize that service delivery needs vary. Remote, northern, racialized, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities face unique challenges. The task force will continue to support immediate and meaningful improvements, along with longer-term steps that anticipate the complex and rapidly-evolving realities that challenge service delivery.” – Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and co-chair of the Service Delivery Task Force

“With this surge in passport requests and significant delays in processing applications, we know that many Canadians have been put in very difficult and stressful situations. We are not out of the woods in terms of passport service delivery, but we are seeing a positive trend. We will continue to implement every possible option to help Canadians get their passport in a timely way, and with additional staff, processing has increased and we are making real progress in reducing the backlog.” – Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development