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Passports: Shorter training for reassigned employees, says Gould

Emilie Bergeron, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Karina Gould, the minister responsible for managing the file of imposing passport processing delays, specifies that the employees lending a hand to Service Canada to stem the crisis will not be those who will carry out the verifications normally carried out by agents who have received 15 weeks of training.

“We are in the process of having other strategies to do training for the other passport processing elements to ensure that these people could work on other stages in the process in order to do this, precisely, more effectively,” she said Wednesday before heading to a Liberal caucus meeting.

The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development had indicated the day before that discussions were underway to temporarily reassign “hundreds of people” who were part of the staff of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the Ministry of Immigration and Global Affairs Canada.

On Wednesday, she said that “dozens” of Immigration Department employees are “already in place this week” while her colleague at National Revenue, Diane Lebouthillier, said that initial resources have also been provided from ARC side.

“What is important to know is that passports are a secure document. They are government property. It represents Canadian citizenship, so there is a process of verification of integrity and training of passport officers (which takes) normally 15 weeks to do,” said Ms. Gould.

Minister Lebouthillier did not provide any estimates as to the number of CRA employees who will eventually come as reinforcements, contenting herself with saying that this was estimated. “We are going to do everything to really help our colleague, but also to help people,” she said, deploring the situation in the passport offices.

In Montreal, many Quebecers spent the night from Tuesday to Wednesday outside near the entrance doors of Service Canada offices in the hope of being able to obtain a Canadian passport as quickly as possible in order to be able to travel.

Images broadcast on television showed hundreds of people gathered in front of the Complexe Guy-Favreau, in downtown Montreal, and several dozen others at a Service Canada center in Laval.