Many Calgarians are reporting growing frustration along with growing lineups at Service Canada locations across the city.
Nicholas Tellas, from Columbia, is getting his master’s degree from the University of Calgary. He was at Service Canada on Monday looking to get his social insurance number so that he can access his scholarship money.
“I have a scholarship with the university,” Tellas said.
“Without my SIN number, they can’t pay me. I need to pay for the semester, the rent and the food for the first month and without that money, I can’t.”
The 26-year-old tried to get an appointment online but said there weren’t any available until June. So he decided to go to an in-person location instead, hoping he’d get in that way quicker.
“I have been here since 8 a.m.,” he said. “Today for four hours. Last Friday, another two hours.”
Sahar Adel was also playing the waiting game on Monday.
“I was here Friday from 10 a.m., to 4 p.m., then the office closed so we got sent back home,” Adel said.
“Today I’ve been here since 8:15 a.m.”
She too said she couldn’t get an online appointment until June. So, she had no choice but to wait in line for her SIN number — regardless of how long it took.
“You can’t work without your social insurance,” she said. “You need your social insurance to apply for a job.”
Many Service Canada locations across the country — including Calgary — have been swamped recently, mostly with passport applications and renewals.
Between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, Service Canada said it issued 363,000 passports. From April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, that number more than tripled to over 1.27 million.
Many Canadians have complained that the federal agency hasn’t been able to keep up with the rush brought on by relaxed COVID-19 travel restrictions. Some believed that has caused a ripple effect in delays for other government services.
Global news reached out to Service Canada to get an answer to those concerns, as well as complaints about lack of staff, but has not received a response at the time of publication.
Tellas gamble to wait in line paid off. He was standing at the front when a Service Canada employee informed him there had been a cancellation for the afternoon.
He took it — gratefully.
“That’s a lot of pressure off — to have an appointment finally — like thank God!”
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