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How to get a Canadian passport now – CTV News

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As summer grows ever closer, Canadians are becoming more and more interested in travelling again — but with reported delays in acquiring or renewing a passport unlikely to end any time soon, understanding the process is key.

At the moment, if you visit the page on the government website pertaining to passports, a notification at the top of the page reveals that they are “experiencing very high call volumes right now.”

“Wait times are longer than usual,” the alert states. “If you do not have travel plans in the next 2 weeks, we suggest you wait to call us.”

Some of the delays are due to the increased interest in travel compared to the last two years of the pandemic. Between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, Service Canada issued around 363,000 passports, but from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, the agency issued 1,273,000 passports, according to a spokesperson.

One family that began renewing their passports in February told CTV News that they didn’t receive the last one until April, just days before a trip for which passports were required.

So how does one renew or acquire a passport in Canada, and how are those processes currently being affected?

RENEWING A PASSPORT

QUALIFYING

Only adult passports can be renewed, according to the Canadian government’s website. Those under 16 will need to apply for a new child’s passport instead of a renewal.

Adult passports can only be renewed if they have were issued within the last 15 years, and have the same gender marker, name, date of birth and place of birth as you would like on your new passport. Otherwise, an adult must apply for a new passport.

If you’re still unsure if you qualify for renewal, the government has a quiz you can take on their site to ensure you fit the requirements.

WHAT YOU NEED ON YOUR APPLICATION

All applicants for a renewal need to fill out an application form (which can be found online), have passport photos taken, and find two references who are not a family member and who have known you for at least two years. They also can’t be a spouse or common-law partner, or anyone related to a spouse or common-law partner, and they must be older than 18 and agree to you using their name and contact information on your application.

The photographer who takes the passport photos must write their name, their complete address and the date when the photos were taken on the back of one of the photos.

You must also turn in your old passport with the application, with the exception of cases in which it was lost or stolen.

This is a new development – prior to last month, if your passport was stolen, lost or had expired more than a year ago, you would have to apply for a new passport. Part of this was because the renewal application asks for the date your passport was issued, as well as the expiration date and the passport number, which many would not know without their old passport at hand. But at the end of March, the government announced that if your passport was stolen, lost, damaged, or had expired within the last 15 years, you would now be able to apply for a renewal, which is much simpler than applying for a new passport.

“As international travel resumes, we need to continue to modernize and improve our passport services to make sure we meet the needs of Canadians,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in a press release at the time.

To renew a passport or apply for one, it costs $120 or $160, depending on whether you are applying for a five or ten year passport.

For those who need a passport quickly, there are additional fees associated with obtaining a passport in under 10 days. If you are required to show proof of travel, this can include an airline ticket, a travel itinerary with proof of payment, or proof of death or illness in the family that requires immediate travel.

“Depending on the reason for your travel, you may need to show further proof that your situation is urgent,” the website states.

APPLYING FOR A NEW PASSPORT

QUALIFYING

To qualify for a new passport, you must be a Canadian citizen and older than 16 years of age to apply for an adult passport. Children under the age of 16 can receive a child’s passport, which last for a maximum of five years and cannot be renewed.

Always check first to see if you qualify to renew your adult passport, as it is a simpler process than applying for a brand new one.

WHAT YOU NEED ON YOUR APPLICATION

There are many more requirements for a new passport than for a renewal.

The first thing all applicants need is to fill out a passport application form, which can be found online.

Then you’ll need one piece of proof of Canadian citizenship. Crucially, you have to submit original documents, not photocopies or photos, which will be returned to you once verified. Things that count as proof include a birth certificate if you were born in Canada, a Canadian citizenship certificate, a certificate of naturalization, a certificate of registration of birth abroad or a certificate of retention of Canadian citizenship.

There may also be province or territory-specific documents which can be accepted as proof of citizenship. Proof of citizenship can have either your new or old name on it if you are seeking a passport with a new name.

Aside from the proof of citizenship, you also need to provide at least one document proving your identity (more are required if you are changing your name). Documents that count include driver’s licenses, health cards, military IDs, and foreign passports, among others. These should include your name, date of birth, photo and signature, and if you have no one ID with all of these, you can submit more than one piece of ID to fill the gap as long as they have a common element to link them.

A passport application also needs two identical passport photos taken to the proper photo requirements. A detailed list of what makes an acceptable passport photo can be found on the government’s website, but many businesses offer passport photography to cut down the risk of having an improperly formatted picture.

Like with a renewal, you need two references, but you also need a single guarantor. This person can be anyone, including a family member or member of your household, as long as they fit the other requirements.

The guarantor must have known you for at least two years, be available to contact, be a Canadian citizen older than 18, have a five or 10-year Canadian passport of their own and be willing to provide their own passport information.

Your guarantor must sign your application, one of your passport photos and all copies of any supporting identity documents.

Depending on why you are applying for a new passport — such as if you want to omit your place of birth, have changed your name or are updating your gender marker — you may be required to submit other documents pertaining to those issues alongside the base requirements. Details on these extra documents can be found on the government’s website.

WHERE TO SUMBIT YOUR APPLICATION FOR A NEW PASSPORT OR RENEWAL

The process itself depends on if you are applying for a passport from within Canada or from the U.S. or abroad elsewhere. If you are outside of Canada, you may be able to apply by mail, but otherwise should inquire at the nearest Government of Canada office in the region you are in.

In Canada, there are a few different ways to process an application, and officials recommend different strategies depending on how quickly you require a passport. For far off trips greater than 26 business days or more, you can apply by mail or by either booking an appointment online at a Service Canada Centre or by just walking in if the Service Canada isn’t very busy.

However, Service Canada won’t be of any help if you need a passport acquired or renewed urgently. For those who need a passport within the next two business days, you must apply in person at a passport office — and while some Service Canada locations are consolidated and include a dedicated passport office, many passport offices are separate. A tool online can help you find a passport office near your location.

If you are applying for a new passport urgently, you must provide proof that you require it in two business days or less.

In the case of needing a passport within 3-25 days, officials recommend making an appointment at one of the 35 specialized passport service locations. You must have proof of travel or need, and you can find a list of all of these specialized passport sites in each province on the government’s website.

WHAT IT’S LIKE TRYING TO APPLY NOW

It already sounds like a lot of work, but according to reported delays, it’s particularly difficult right now to acquire or renew a passport.

Some have reported waiting in long lines at passport offices to try and file an application or renewal — something you can avoid by applying early enough in advance. If you apply at least 26 business days in advance, you can attend a Service Canada Centre instead of a specialized passport site.

But if possible, you should try to apply earlier than that to minimize the risk of delays affecting your plans.

According to Service Canada, the standard processing time for regular passport applications submitted in Canada is 10 business days when submitted in person at a passport office and 20 business days when submitted by mail or in person at a Service Canada Centre, not including mailing time.

As of April 18, Employment and Social Development Canada says the average processing time is five and 25 days respectively.

If you have submitted an application over 20 business days ago and still haven’t heard back, there is a tool to check the status of your application. 

___

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Have you had to cancel travel plans due to passport processing delays? Email dotcom@bellmedia.ca.

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Why Can’t The Federal Government Eliminate Systemic Racism In The Canadian Military?

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“Racism in Canada is not a glitch in the system; it is the system.

By Harinder Mahil

A recently released report indicates that systemic racism is rampant throughout the Canadian Armed Forces which is putting the country’s national security at risk. 
 
The report released by Defence Minister Anita Anand says that the military has not acted on dozens of previous studies and reviews on racism in the ranks over the past two decades. The report says the military is not doing enough to detect and prevent white supremacists and other extremists from infiltrating its ranks.
 
I have read numerous stories about the racism in the military over the years but never thought it was such a big problem. I am shocked at the extent of the problem as identified in the report.
 
The report concludes that more and more Canadians will have no interest in joining the military until it fixes its long-standing issues of racism, abuse of power, gender discrimination and sexual misconduct.
 
“Unless it is rapidly reined in and addressed, the impact of this toxicity will linger for years, affecting the reputation of the Defence Team to the point of repulsing Canadians from joining its workforce”
 
The report says military leadership must accept that some members will either leave or need to be removed.
 
The report comes after a yearlong review by a panel of retired Armed Forces membersand follows numerous incidents linking some military personnel with violent extremism and hate groups, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
 
“Racism in Canada is not a glitch in the system; it is the system,” reads the report by the Minister of National Defence’s Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination.
 
There has been increasing pressure on the military to do more to crack down on hateful ideologies within its ranks.
 
“A common thread was evident throughout these consultations: membership in extremist groups is growing, it is becoming increasingly covert, and technological advances such as Darknet and encryption methods pose significant challenges in detecting these members,” the report said.
 
White men account for 71 per cent of Canadian military members but only 39 per cent of the country’s civilian workforce. The report notes Indigenous Peoples, visible minorities and women are significantly under-represented in Canada’s armed forces.
 

Over the last two decades the military has been seeking recruits from the Indigenous and visible minority communities. Why would Indigenous and visible minority communities’ members join the military if they are discriminated against by others especially those who have links with neo-Nazis?

 
I am of the opinion that the report only scratches the surface of the problem. It talks about consultations but who is consulted. 
 
If the military is serious about dealing with the problem it should monitor the social media posts of its members and weed out those who harbour white supremacist views and recognize those who are likely to be drawn towards extremist groups.
 

Harinder Mahil is a community activist and President of the West Coast Coalition Against Racism (WCCAR).

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Government’s changing vape strategy shifts focus away from cigarettes, advocates fear

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OTTAWA — In the eight years or so since he opened his first vape shop in Ottawa, Ron Couchman said a great sense of community has been lost.

A former cigarette smoker himself, Couchman said he remembers when his store operated almost as a support group for people trying to find a healthier alternative to cigarette addiction.

“We could teach other people how to vape when people were struggling to get off cigarettes, we’d play board games and have movie nights,” Couchman said.

As provincial and federal legislation started to clamp down on those activities, he said the camaraderie has faded.

Couchman is a passionate advocate for the potential of vaping to help people leave more harmful tobacco habits behind. At one point the federal government appeared to be onside with that, he said, but that seems to be changing.

“The last few bouts of legislation (have) really swung the other way to the point that it’s serving as a disincentive to quit smoking,” he said.

The government is in the midst of its first review of the 2018 legislation that legalized vaping, and appears to be veering away from the narrow path between treating vapes as a harm reduction tool, or a danger in and of themselves.

The harms of vaping relative to smoking tobacco cigarettes are still something of a mystery, but the government’s website suggests it’s safer than inhaling cigarette smoke.

Advocates on both sides of the issue say regulations have become tougher on vapes and have more or less abandoned the product as an alternative to cigarettes, leaving them to wonder how the government plans to deal with cigarette smoking in Canada.

“They bet heavily on harm reduction as a way to address tobacco. It hasn’t worked for them, and they didn’t have a more comprehensive plan,” said Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

Health Canada’s goal is to reduce the number of people who smoke tobacco to just five per cent by 2035, from about 14.8 per cent in 2019.

An audit of the department shows tobacco smoke is declining in popularity, but mainly because young people aren’t picking up the habit and existing smokers are dying.

Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Canada, with approximately 48,000 people dying from smoking-related illnesses every year, the government says.

Vaping remains relatively unpopular for adults over the age of 25, with just three per cent reporting that they vaped within the last month in 2020, according to the results of the Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey. That’s about the same it was in the 2017 Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs Survey.

But vaping has spiked among youth between 15 and 19 years old, to 14 per cent in 2020 up from six per cent in 2017.

In response, the government clamped down on vaping with a range of regulations, banning promotion and advertising of the products in certain spaces and putting limits on the amount of nicotine that can be in them. It’s also expected to restrict which flavours can be sold.

In their most recent budget, the Liberals proposed an excise tax on vape products as of Oct. 1.

Now, it’s as if Health Canada is fighting the war on two fronts, Callard said.

The department has been focusing resources on youth vaping, leaving anti-smoking groups like Callard’s concerned that a tobacco strategy may be falling by the wayside.

The recent audit shows the department has been taking on projects to reduce tobacco use, but it won’t be enough to meet their own targets.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups like Rights4Vapers say smokers are being punished for making a healthier choice.

“It is probably the only addiction currently where we continue to use fear and shame to get individuals to quit,” said Maria Papaioannoy, the group’s spokesperson and a vape store owner.

The strategy does appear to be at odds with the harm-reduction approach the government has embraced when it comes to to drug use, said David Sweanor, chair of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics.

“We’ve seen the success replicated numerous times simply by giving people alternatives, which is consistent with what we’ve done with things like clean needles, safe injection sites,” said Sweanor, who contributed to the 1988 Tobacco Products Control Act.

The government must table its legislative review this year. The discussion paper the department released touches almost exclusively on how to toughen vaping regulations, Sweanor said, though that’s not what the legislation was primarily set out to do.

“Is it accomplishing what it’s supposed to be accomplishing? Are there ways that you can improve it?” he said.

“Instead, what we got is a document that takes very few aspects of, primarily, their anti-vaping strategy.”

In the paper the government says the review will focus on vaping regulations because the vaping products market in Canada has changed so much in the years since the law was passed.

The review gives the opportunity to examine whether the act offers the government enough authority to address the rise in youth vaping, the paper said.

“A full assessment of whether the measures taken since the legislation was introduced in 2018 have been effective in responding to the rise in youth vaping will benefit from more time and data. Subsequent reviews will continue to monitor youth use along with other dimensions of the Act,” the document reads.

Advocates for and against using vaping as a way to transition people away from harmful cigarette smoke agree, tobacco is being left out of the conversation.

“Tobacco remains the fundamental problem,” said Callard. “It’s tobacco that continues to kill.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

 

 

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Multiple reports say Marner’s SUV was stolen in an armed carjacking in west Toronto

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There are multiple reports that an SUV belonging to Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner has been stolen in a carjacking in the city’s west end.

The Toronto Sun, Global News and City TV all quoted unnamed police sources as saying Marner’s black Range Rover was taken outside a movie theatre in Etobicoke.

Police confirmed there was a carjacking without any injuries, but would not give any information out on the victims or witnesses.

The Sun says Marner was shaken but not hurt.

Police tweeted they were called to The Queensway and Islington Avenue area around 7:46 p.m. for reports of a man robbed of his car.

Authorities are looking for three suspects armed with two handguns and a knife, who took off in the stolen vehicle.

Marner and the Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday in a seventh and deciding game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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