Mp Damien Kurek. (Facebook photo)

Mp Damien Kurek. (Facebook photo)

Disservice to Canada

The political side of Parliament often draws a great deal of attention and headlines, but often forgotten are government services that are critical to Canadians.

COVID-19 has taken a massive toll on the numerous government institutions we rely on, but mismanagement has hurt the ability of Canadians to access services.

I have heard from many of you about challenges accessing Service Canada, along with other departments.

While many issues have emerged over the last two years, a specific concern is passport-related services.

While Service Canada staff are working diligently — and I have spoken to local staff who I commend — , significant backlogs and institutional challenges exist… response times are too long and there is an ever-growing backlog.

Government workplaces need to return to normal and efficiencies need to be found.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government failed to plan for the expected increase in demand with so many ten-year passports expiring at the same time and did not acknowledge that Canadians were preparing to travel as restrictions relaxed.

Many of you have reached out to me about firearms-related policy issues and I often express frustration with the Liberals’ policy direction.

However, there has been a significant increase in delays for processing Possession and Acquisition Licenses (PAL) and Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licenses (RPAL).

The Liberals seem to have intentionally increased the bureaucratic complexities related to firearms ownership.

Please be weary of the possible legal consequences of expired licenses and be sure you leave ample time for your renewal. If you have concerns, please feel free to reach out.

Another department many folks are experiencing challenges is with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

They play an integral role in ensuring new immigrants can come to Canada and contribute economically and to our social fabric.

Further, IRCC’s responsibility is to fortify Canada’s ability to help those in crisis and aid them upon arrival in Canada, including Afghan interpreters and Ukrainian refugees.

IRCC is facing an enormous backlog of nearly two million applications for citizenship, permanent residency, study permits, temporary work visas, and visitor visas among others. Contact with IRCC remains extraordinarily difficult and this has become unacceptable. MP offices have a dedicated phone line and email to advocate on behalf of their constituents. If you need assistance, please feel free to reach out.

These are a few examples of delays in service delivery, but there are many more instances I have heard about from constituents and colleagues across Canada ranging from Indigenous Services to the CRA to Veterans Affairs.

The bottom line is action must be taken by the Liberals to ensure these services are available to Canadians.

I will continue to advocate for these issues to be addressed. On a practical note, if you need assistance or advice regarding services offered by the Federal Government, please do not hesitate to contact my office, my staff and I are here to help.

I work for you and will do everything I can to help make sure the Government serves the people of Battle River—Crowfoot.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this column or need assistance with a Federal Government program, you are encouraged to write Damien at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, text 403-575-5625, or e-mail damien.kurek@parl.gc.ca. You can also stay up to date with Damien by following him on social media @dckurek.

Opinion