The government promised online passport renewal. It never happened. Here’s why

Last May, the Canadian government announced a plan that would allow Canadians to renew their passports online by the fall of 2023. It never happened. Pat Taney finds out why.

By Pat Taney

Back in May of last year, The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, made a big announcement regarding passports.

They unveiled a new design, which met mixed reactions, but the most celebrated message from that announcement was a plan to allow certain Canadians to renew their passports online.

“Online passport renewals will provide eligible clients an option to renew their passport, pay their fees and upload their passport photo conveniently online,” the Ministry announced.

They said the program would be running by the fall of 2023. Fast forward to today, and nothing has changed.

“Whatever they said, it never happened,” Gurjit Toor told us after coming out of Service Canada in Etobicoke to renew her passport.

“I had to wait in line for a half hour only to be told I have to visit another office,” she said. “I’m a very busy mom and don’t have time for this.”

Toor, who’s had a Canadian passport for decades, hoped all of this could’ve been done online.

“They said it would be available, but I searched everywhere, and there is no option to do this online.”

After that big May announcement, the Ministry hasn’t followed up with any updates. There were no public announcements as to why the program wasn’t launched despite the promise it would be by this past fall.

CityNews reached out to the Ministry to get answers.

“The release of the online application was postponed as system assessments showed vulnerabilities,” a Ministry spokesperson said. “We are making improvements to safeguard essential services for Canadians and mitigate potential risks.

“At this time, Canadians can continue to renew their passport by mail or in person, and those applications will be processed as per our service standards.”

Canadians like Toor are frustrated.

“So basically nothing has changed,” she said. “Why make the announcement if you’re not 100 per cent sure it can happen?” she asked. “It was just an empty promise, in my opinion.”

The Ministry ” remains committed to creating a reliable and secure online passport-renewal system.”

We asked if there was a new timeline for online renewal, but none was given.

The spokesperson told us any new developments would be announced to the public in advance.

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