Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP calls for a northern passport office

·2 min read

Skeena-Bulkley Valley Taylor Bachrach MP is calling on the federal government to open a passport office in northern B.C.

In a letter Bachrach wrote to Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, he lobbies for northerners to have closer access to the full suite of passport services, including urgent processing.

He wrote that the challenges passport delays are causing for Canadians are even more pronounced for northerners, who experience added expenses and disruption from having to travel to the Lower Mainland to get to a passport centre that issues urgent requests.

“Once again, northern residents are receiving unequal access to government services. I’ve heard from numerous northwest B.C. families who have been forced to travel at the last minute to Vancouver or Victoria, at great personal expense, to pick up their passports,” Bachrach said.

“If the federal government can’t process applications within reasonable timelines, northern residents should be able to access urgent processing services without having to drive for 17 hours.”

According to Google Maps it would take someone 16 hours 53 minutes to drive the nearly 1,500 kilometers from Prince Rupert to the Vancouver passport centre.

“After two years of staying home to keep their communities safe, Canadians across the country are seeing their travel plans put in jeopardy by your government’s failure to efficiently deliver a basic government service,” the letter states.

Bachrach calls the delays “totally unacceptable”.

“The federal government should have anticipated travel demand would increase after restrictions were lifted and deployed additional resources to respond. Instead, for months now, Canadian families have been bearing the brunt of the government’s inability to reliably deliver basic services.”

On Aug. 17, Minister Gould announced four new locations in Canada that will be offering 10-day passport pick-up services including Red Deer, Alta.; Trois-Rivières, Que.; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.; and Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The annoucement did not include any new locations for B.C.

Between Apr. 1 and Aug. 17, Service Canada issued 801,353 passports, according to the Employment and Social Development Canada website.

Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View