Ontario family ‘devastated’ at thought of canceling $35K safari due to passport backlog

An Ontario woman says she is devastated at the thought of being forced to cancel her family’s $35,000 trip due to delays in getting passports for her two children, especially after following all the rules.

Milton, Ontario resident Tammy Glendinning said her children’s 84-year-old grandfather gave the trip to his family in 2019, who traveled the world after retiring as a school principal.

“He said, ‘I really want my only two grandchildren to go on this trip, this amazing safari in Kenya, and I want them to do it while I’m alive.'”

Brochure provided by the Glendinning family.

Then COVID-19 hit and their trip was postponed.

Two years later, their dream of finally being able to go on a 14-day safari in Kenya has been plagued by worries that they will have to cancel because they mailed in their passport application instead of trying to cheat the system.

In April, Glendinning went to an office in Mississauga to get passports for her two teenage sons, ages 15 and 17, only to be told that unless she traveled within 14 days, there was no point in standing in line.

At the time, passport officers were overwhelmed by customers whose applications were put on hold during the pandemic.

She was told that since her trip was months away, she needed to mail in her application and supporting documentation, including birth certificates.

Apart from confirmation that his credit card was charged at the end of May, Glendinning has not heard from Service Canada and the trip is fast approaching.

The safari, with a base cost of around $35,000, is scheduled to start in less than three weeks on August 9. Once the family obtains passports, Glendinning said they must also apply for a travel visa, which could take anywhere from two to 15 days depending on the embassy.

“It’s beyond frustrating,” he told CTV News Toronto. “I’m literally defenseless here. I don’t even know what to do.”

CTV News Toronto has contacted Service Canada regarding Glendinning’s request, but has not received a response.

“They have an email box that says you can send an email to this email box once, but only once during the whole process… I have sent an email. I have not received a response.”

Glendinning said he’s heard rumors that people were booking overnight stays in Buffalo to get their passports, but can’t do that anymore because all the documentation he needs to apply for a passport has been sent to Service Canada.

“I followed the rules,” he said. “I did everything they wanted me to do. I can’t even get an update.”

In June, Service Canada said that about 75 per cent of Canadians who apply for a passport receive it within 40 business days, while 90 per cent of Canadians receive their passport within 10 business days of a visit. in person at a specialized site.

In an email sent to CTV News Toronto on June 10, a spokesperson said that more than 317,000 passports have been issued since April 1, 2022.

Despite this fact, travelers still report long lines and waiting times for appointments, with several dedicated offices just for immediate travelers who need an urgent request.

As it stands now, Canadians traveling in the next 24 to 48 hours are given priority at some passport offices amid reports of long lines and processing delays.

The federal government’s website says those traveling between three and 45 days after applying must submit proof that they need a passport, while those traveling 46 days or more can mail in their application, but processing could take up to 13 weeks.

Glendinning said she understands there are delays and staff are doing their best, but the radio silence her family is experiencing is causing a lot of anxiety.

She said she will take Friday off to stand in line at a passport office in hopes of finding out what her application is.

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