The passport crisis, which has been going on for months, is far from being resolved and, faced with the federal government's lack of organization, many Quebecers no longer hesitate to go online at dawn in the hope of obtaining the precious document.
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"We posted [the documents] in mid-March, and we never heard back," laments Mathilde Saumier, 17, who is due to leave for Germany on Saturday on a scholarship.
She was among the hundred people to hang out early Friday morning at Complexe Guy-Favreau in Montreal, with the hope of ending Service Canada once and for all.
Apprehensive of the wait, some took care to bring a camping chair. On site since 6 a.m., Danielle Lacroix was offered one by a good Samaritan.
“Today is particularly busy,” she notes, suggesting that several travelers who have made an urgent passport request have been called to present themselves, as the counters are closed during the weekend.
Several people interviewed by Le Journal also indicated that they had waited for a call from Service Canada which never came, forcing them to return.
Elliot Delorme has been there. All in all, the 27-year-old was trying to keep his spirits up on Friday, during his third visit of the week.
"Even the people who work here don't know what's going on," says the young man who will return on Sunday to finally get his passport back.
Amandine Serylo recounts for her part having been confronted with the rigidity of the system.
She was unable to get her one-month-old baby Esteban's passport made after being present Thursday from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hoping to save him from the monster wait, the professional photographer had taken a photo of the toddler herself. Unfortunately, Service Canada would have deemed that the image did not meet its criteria.
“I waited for nothing all day,” she complains, with her young child in her arms.
Drenched and stressed
At the Service Canada office in the Saint-Laurent borough, around fifty citizens had to hang out in the rain on Friday morning.
Stressed and completely soaked, Michel Samaan hopes to be able to take off soon for Syria, on the occasion of a death in his family.
“I'm tired, it's been 3 days [that I come]. I have exams and I don't have time to study, ”worries the CEGEP student.
Earlier this week, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal was also called on the spot to resolve “conflictual” situations in connection with access to government premises, without however being confronted with overflows.
Asked to comment, Employment and Social Development Canada argues in particular that despite “longer processing times than before the pandemic, 97% of Canadians receive their passport within 10 working days after applying for it in person in a specialized site.
The government has also revised its forecasts for passport applications for the year 2022-2023, now estimating them at 4.3 million rather than 3.6 million.
-With Olivier Faucher