Home Hotel service Yellowknife woman asks for better passport services after flying to Calgary to hand-deliver photos

Yellowknife woman asks for better passport services after flying to Calgary to hand-deliver photos

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Kassandra DeFrancis had to travel to Calgary at her own expense to hand-deliver photos after Passport Canada lost her daughter’s passport application.

It had been three months since she had applied through the Service Canada office in Yellowknife, and there were only a few days left before her family went on vacation to the Dominican Republic on October 23.

“By the time we got to this vacation, I needed this vacation. Just because of this whole passport debacle,” DeFrancis said.

DeFrancis said she was told the passport would be ready by the end of September and, because she lived in a remote community, it would be expedited. When she didn’t receive it, she started calling the office weekly for updates.

“They said, ‘We’re working on it’, they had no updates for me. I kept telling them it would be a huge burden on me if I had to travel south to get this passport” , she said.

DeFrancis said a week before their vacation, the Service Canada office in Calgary told her that her daughter’s passport application and photos had been lost.

DeFrancis’ son, Bennett, waits at the Service Canada office in Calgary for his sister’s passport. (Submitted/Kassandra DeFrancis)

They suggested she bring new photos to the Service Canada office in Yellowknife so they could fax them and have the passport ready by Friday, October 22, a day before their flight from Calgary.

This meant someone had to collect the passport from the office on Friday and deliver it to the airport on Saturday between their short layover.

DeFrancis says the Yellowknife Service Canada office also had problems with its fax machine and was unable to fax the image properly.

The family deemed it too risky and chose DeFrancis to fly the photos to Calgary and hand-deliver them to the office.

She was able to get the passport on the spot that day.

It was an added mental and financial burden, however, DeFrancis said, especially traveling with two young children. The vehicle rental, hotel room and flight changes cost the family nearly $1,300.

“I had to take my two kids on my own,” DeFrancis said. “Travelling with two young children is very stressful, but I had no choice.

They also had to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday in the hotel room without her father present.

Kassandra DeFrancis unexpectedly had to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday in a Calgary hotel room without her father present after flying out early to get her passport. (Submitted/Kassandra DeFrancis)

Mohammad Hussain, a spokesperson for Passport Canada, wrote in an email response to questions from CBC that “we deeply regret that the circumstances surrounding this request have caused such inconvenience and hardship for this Canadian.”

He acknowledged that passport wait times were “far from normal” for some people in the spring and summer, adding that children’s passports may have longer processing times due to “the complexity of the routine checks and security checks”.

Hussain said photos from the original passport application were not missing, but needed to be re-processed before the passport was issued and sent.

“Given the timeliness required, new photos were requested to ensure the passport could be printed locally as the client traveled to Calgary to pick up the passport,” he wrote.

He added that since October 3, passport applications have been processed according to pre-pandemic service standards.

More options for northerners needed, says DeFrancis

DeFrancis says there should be an office in the Northwest Territories that can print passports on the spot, or an option on the app where people can indicate they live in a remote community so their passports can be accelerated.

“I just wanted to warn other northerners – if you’ve applied for a passport, really stay up to date and call constantly to make sure it’s being reviewed.”

The Northwest Territories and Nunavut are the only regions in Canada that don’t offer 10-day processing for passports or in-person pickup, though Hussain noted some services are available in-person in some smaller communities. of the NWT, including Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River and Inuvik.

After a stressful week getting their daughter’s passport, the DeFrancis family was able to take their family vacation. (Submitted/Kassandra DeFrancis)

In the end, DeFrancis got the passport in time and his family was able to go on vacation.

“We got on our plane. We made the trip,” DeFrancis said. “It worked in the end, but it was stressful.”

DeFrancis said she would file a complaint with the passport office.