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Grab a seat: Passport lineups prompt Canada to urgently procure hundreds of chairs

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As passport processing delays and long lineups persist at Service Canada offices, the federal government is looking to buy 801 chairs for people standing in line by the end of this week.

On June 30, Employment and Social Development Canada issued a tender, titled "URGENT FOR PASSPORT OFFICES," seeking 535 armrest-free chairs and 266 chairs with armrests.

For both varieties, the government wants hard-surfaced chairs "to facilitate maintenance," and is requiring the chairs be black in colour, have lumbar support, and come assembled.

The order specifies that the chairs are to be delivered to a Montreal-area Passport Canada office, as well as another government building in the city.

For weeks Canadians have reported chaos at passport offices, resulting in people waiting in line for hours, some bringing their own chairs and camping out overnight as they try to beat the rush in applying for, renewing, or picking up the key piece of travel documentation.

The request for the additional seating was posted just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the formation of a special cabinet committee "task force to improve government services."

The 10 ministers on the committee have been tasked with tackling the "unacceptable" backlogs with immigration and passport applications, though with no clear timelines attached to this task.

Last week, co-chair of the task force Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien told reporters she'd like to see "tangible" improvements "in the next several weeks."

The tender is set to close mid-day on Thursday, with the government expecting delivery by Friday.

An unnamed potential supplier had asked if the deadline could be extended by a week, citing the Canada Day holiday, but the government said no.

“Due to the urgent requirement to provide chairs to passport offices we cannot extend the solicitation," was their reply.

So far there are no publicly listed "interested suppliers," according to the posting.

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