Milton family may have to cancel $35,000 safari because they can’t get passports

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

Milton, Ont. resident Tammy Glendinning said the trip was gifted to her family in 2019 by her sons’ 84-year-old grandfather, who travelled the world after retiring from being a school principal.

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


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 with concerns they’ll 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—aged 15 and 17—only to be told that unless she was travelling in 14 days, there was no point in lining up.

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

She said she was informed that, because her trip was months away, she should mail in her application and supporting documentation, including birth certificates.

Other than confirmation her credit card was charged at the end of May, Glendinning hasn’t heard from Service Canada and the trip is fast approaching.

The safari—with a base cost of about $35,000—is scheduled to start in less than three weeks on Aug. 9. Once the family gets the 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,” she told CTV News Toronto. “I’m literally helpless here. I don’t even know what to do.”

When reached for comment, Service Canada said “after two years of travel restrictions, Canada is seeing a significant surge in demand for passports.”

“Service Canada recognizes that the increase has resulted in lineups and longer wait times for service, and we understand the concern this may cause for clients. Due to high volumes, processing times are longer than usual. We may not always meet our service standards as a result.”

Glendinning said she heard rumours that people were booking one-night stays in Buffalo in order to get their passports, but can no longer do that because all of the documentation she needs to apply for a passport has been sent to Service Canada.

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

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

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

Despite this fact, travellers are still reporting long line ups and wait times for appointments, with multiple offices being dedicated only for immediate travellers in need of a rushed application.

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

The federal government’s website says that those travelling between three to 45 days of the application must provide proof they need a passport, while those travelling in 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 experience is causing a lot of anxiety.

She said she will be taking Friday off work in order to line up at a passport office in hopes of finding out where their application stands.