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Minister asks Canadians not to fake travel plans to skip passport application lines

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OTTAWA -

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould is discouraging people from making fake travel plans just to skip the line of those waiting for passports.

Gould said she’s heard anecdotally that some people may be booking imminent travel in order to get their passport application bumped up the list, though she doesn’t believe the issue is widespread.

While passport offices are triaging applications and making their way through the significant backlog — caused by a wave of interest in international travel after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic — those with imminent or urgent travel needs can show evidence of upcoming travel plans and get their passport expedited.

“That is not something we’ve heard happening across the board, but of course if it is, I discourage it entirely, because it exacerbates an already overwhelmed system,” Gould told CTVNews.ca on Monday. “I’d be very disappointed if someone decided to do that, because it’s very unfair to people who have done all the right things.”

The minister said one would need “considerable resources” to pay for a trip just to cancel it in the hopes of getting bumped up the line for a passport. She also said wait times at passport offices themselves have been drastically reduced and are largely back to normal.

“There really is no need to do something like this,” Gould said.

Still, many Canadians have reported waiting months to get their passport, with long wait times for those who mail in their applications.

“We’re making steady progress,” Gould said.

Kevin King, the National President of the Union of National Employees, Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents hundreds of passport officers, said he’s not sure how many people are trying to manipulate the system, but that “one is too many.”

“I think the vast majority of Canadians are not gaming the system,” he told CTVNews.ca on Monday. “But I do have a message for those who are: they are endangering the livelihoods of the passport officers we represent, and they’re endangering frustrated clients who are in line for legitimate reasons.”

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