Canada – Additional steps to deliver timely passport services for Canadians as travel restrictions ease around the world 

With pandemic restrictions easing around the world, interest in travel is growing among Canadians, and demand for new or renewed passports is growing along with it. Service Canada is experiencing increases in passport processing times, and is responding by prioritizing those travelling imminently and ensuring that those with less urgent needs can access the right service channels for them.

May 17, 2022              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development CanadaWith pandemic restrictions easing around the world, interest in travel is growing among Canadians, and demand for new or renewed passports is growing along with it. Service Canada is experiencing increases in passport processing times, and is responding by prioritizing those travelling imminently and ensuring that those with less urgent needs can access the right service channels for them.

Service Canada’s ability to serve Canadians swiftly was affected by the unprecedented volume of applications and the obligation to impose in-person capacity limits for both clients and staff to protect the health and safety of those visiting and those working inside Service Canada Centres.

Service Canada is pleased to announce the reopening of all passport service counters across the country. Reopening measures were implemented the week of May 9 following a brief trial period. They mark a return to pre-pandemic in-person service capacity, with a 40% increase in capacity at service counters. Capacity in waiting rooms has also been significantly expanded, and Service Canada has also taken additional measures to simplify and expedite passport processing.

A number of measures have been put in place to make it easier for Canadians to access passport services, and to improve and streamline processing to better meet their needs.

Service Canada has hired 600 new employees specifically to support the processing of passport applications, opened more dedicated passport intake counters in over 300 Service Canada Centres, opened additional processing hubs, and created a new workload management and processing technology to increase efficiency, all while meeting health protocols. Service Canada continues to hire and train more employees, and teams at the passport office, processing and call centres are working overtime every day and on weekends to increase processing capacity. This includes opening select Service Canada Centres on Saturdays for passport service.

A simplified renewal process now allows applicants to renew an expired passport if it was issued in the last 15 years. The simplified process is also available to those who had their passport lost, stolen or damaged. Applicants do not need to have a guarantor or provide their original documents, such as proof of citizenship or photo identification. They simply need two photos, two references, their completed form and the applicable fees. These changes make renewing a passport easier and faster, while maintaining the highest level of program integrity.

Service Canada has also launched eservices.canada.ca/reservation/, an online appointment-booking tool that applicants can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from their computer, tablet or cellphone to book their appointment online. The tool also directs them to the right location to submit their passport applications. Service Canada recognizes that some circumstances cannot wait for an appointment:

Anyone who needs a passport within two business days must visit one of the specialized passport sites (Service Canada Centres – Passport Service) offering urgent pick-up service. Proof of travel is required.
Those travelling within 25 business days can use the walk-in service at one of the 35 specialized passport sites (Service Canada Centres – Passport Service). Appointments are recommended, and proof of travel is required. Please note that wait times at these sites may be long due to the current demand.
For anyone travelling in more than 25 days (or with no specific travel date), over 300 Service Canada Centres are available to receive passport applications in person. No proof of travel is needed. These applicants also have the option to mail in their applications.

Although processing times are currently longer than prior to the pandemic, 98% of Canadians who apply in-person at a specialized passport office currently receive their passports in less than 10 business days. In March and April 2022, Service Canada received approximately 500,000 applications for passports, and is therefore prioritizing those with more imminent travel.

Canadians should make sure they have valid passports well before booking travel. If they do need a passport, or need an existing passport to be renewed, they should apply well before they book their trip to ensure it can be delivered in time. 

“Service Canada and its employees work hard to deliver the services Canadians need, where and when they need them. We do this by planning for surges in demand, adapting our processes where and when we can, and taking advantage of technology to streamline our processing and intake. Our teams are currently responding to a significant surge in demand for passports, working hard to maintain our service standards and get Canadians the documents they need to travel. We thank Canadians for their patience during this time, and continue to encourage them to plan ahead and apply early if they need passport services.”

– Lori MacDonald, Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development and Chief Operating Officer for Service Canada

From April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, Service Canada issued 363,000 passports. From April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, this number grew to 1,273,000 passports issued, with over 960,000 being issued between September 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.

Service Canada expects to receive 4.2 million passport applications during the 2022–23 fiscal year. 

In April 2021, approximately 69,000 applications were received, compared to 261,000 applications in April 2022. 

Since April 1, 2022, Service Canada has issued 210,219 passports.

Hong Kong – AFCD steps up enforcement against non-compliance with anti-epidemic regulations in country parks (with photo)

AFCD steps up enforcement against non-compliance with anti-epidemic regulations in country parks (with photo)

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     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) stepped up inspection and enforcement in combatting breaches of anti-epidemic regulations in crowded places in various country parks, and joined hands with the Police in joint enforcement operations in Sai Kung Country Park, Plover Cove (Extension) Country Park, Pat Sin Leng Country Park and Tung Lung Fort Special Area yesterday and today (April 15 and 16).  



     A spokesman for the AFCD said, “Officers issued a total of three fixed penalty notices under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I), and took enforcement action against 49 persons suspected to be involved in illegal camping or use of fire in country parks.”



     The spokesman reminded, “To reduce social contact, all campsites and barbecue sites under the management of the AFCD have been closed. According to the Country Parks and Special Areas Regulations (Cap. 208A), during the closure of the facilities, no one should be engaged in camping or barbecuing activities in country parks, or enter a cordoned-off area. Members of the public must comply with provisions of the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G). The number of people in group gatherings should not be more than two persons. In addition, the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I) specified that public places with a mask-wearing requirement had been expanded to cover all areas of country parks. All persons shall wear a mask in country parks. Violations are subject to prosecution.”



     The current epidemic situation in Hong Kong is still very severe. The spokesman urges members of the public to avoid going out as much as possible and stay away from crowded areas in country parks if planning visits, and comply with social distancing measures. Over the Easter long holiday, the AFCD will continue to step up patrols with relevant departments and take resolute enforcement action upon any violation of relevant laws. Members of the public should maintain personal and environmental hygiene, properly dispose of used masks and waste, and take their litter home to minimise the risk of community spread of the virus and protect the environment.

Hong Kong – LCSD steps up enforcement actions on anti-epidemic regulations (with photos)

LCSD steps up enforcement actions on anti-epidemic regulations (with photos)

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     To ensure members of the public comply with the relevant regulations on group gatherings and wearing of masks, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) stepped up patrols at venues under its management in collaboration with law enforcement teams of relevant departments during the Easter holidays and asked venue users to abide by the rules. Repeated offenders are prosecuted after verbal warnings are ignored.



      The LCSD spokesman today (April 15) reminds members of the public that according to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G), the relevant restriction on the number of persons currently allowed per group gathering in a public place is two. In addition, according to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I), a person must wear a mask at all times when the person is entering or present in a specified public place. Any person failing to comply with the above relevant Regulations may be subject to a fixed penalty at $5,000.



     As at 4pm today, over 560 times verbal advice were given out while fixed penalty notices were also issued to four persons breaching Cap.599I on mandatory mask-wearing requirement in specified public places in 1 390 patrols of venues by the LCSD staff. The LCSD spokesman reminds members of the public to stay vigilant and comply with the relevant regulations on prevention and control of disease in a concerted and persistent manner in order to reduce the chances of spreading the virus in the community.

     

      Promotional leaflets as well as venue broadcast and notices were used to urge foreign domestic helpers to raise awareness of epidemic prevention and comply with the various anti-epidemic regulations and restrictions during patrols of venues by the LCSD staff.



      The LCSD, together with law enforcement teams of relevant departments, will continue to step up patrols in the coming two days (April 16 and 17). Enforcement actions will be taken when irregularities are found.

 

Steps by Government to provide affordable and 24-hour power supply to the consumers in the country


The Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments by establishing power plants in Central Sector through Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) and allocating power from them to the various States / UTs. States/UTs meet their respective energy requirement.




The Central Government also supplements the efforts of the States through its various schemes including Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), Power System Development Fund (PSDF) to help them to achieve the objective of providing uninterrupted power supply to all households




The Central Government has established a reliable interconnected National Grid for transmission of power across the regions facilitating sale/purchase power amongst the States/UTs for the quantum of surplus availability over and above the Energy Requirement of the respective consumers at a given point of time. This has enabled the optimal utilization of the generation resources and availability of affordable power to meet the requirement of the consumers in the country.




This information was given by Shri R.K Singh, Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.




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Steps by Government to ensure smooth integration of RE generation with Main Grid


The intermittency in Renewable Energy (RE) generation which is caused due to variability in availability of natural resources during a day poses a challenge in its integration with the grid. The Government in order to ensure smoother integration of RE generation with the grid has taken several measures including the following:


      1. Construction of Intra-State and Inter-State transmission systems for evacuation of Renewable power.
      2. Setting up of Renewable Energy Management Centers (REMCs) for accurate forecasting of renewable power and for assisting grid operators to manage variability and intermittency of renewable power.
      3. Innovative products like solar-wind hybrid projects, RE projects with energy storage systems and supply of RE power balanced with power from non-RE sources started to reduce intermittency.
      4. Implementation of Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) and Green Day Ahead Market (GDAM) for sale of renewable energy.
      5. Flexibility in Generation and Scheduling of Thermal/Hydro Power Stations through bundling with Renewable Energy and Storage Power.


The country has seen record low RE tariffs of Rs 1.99 per KWh for solar power and Rs 2.43 per KWh for wind power which are quite favourable as compared to tariff of electricity produced from non- renewable energy sources.


Solar energy, for example is available effectively for 6-8 hours only during the day (besides seasonal variation) and wind power can also have significant intra-day as well as inter-seasonal and inter-annual variations. Therefore, storage systems are critical for ensuring reliable supply of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix, especially as the share of renewables in the overall energy mix of the country increases.


This information was given by Shri R.K Singh, Union Minister for Power and MNRE in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.


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