Mr. Brison, Passport Canada is NOT Amazon.

Dear Mr. Brison,

Recently you were a speaker at the 2017 Inaugural FWD50 Conference, to discuss digitization amongst all levels of government, the private sector, NGOs and academia. You spoke about making a difference and having an impact that provides “better” services to Canadians.

Notably, you stated that “Canadians don’t understand why they can’t receive the same level of service from their government when they renew a passport that they receive from Amazon when they buy something.”

The comparison of Amazon an online shopping website, to the Canadian Passport is concerning for multiple reasons.

First, Amazon currently has numerous allegations of unscrupulous working conditions and wages. It has been reported that employees are subjected to impossible targets, timed toilet breaks, and unsafe and filthy workplaces.

Secondly, Canadians may value convenience, but it is evident that they also value their security. They value workers’ legislated rights and they value our country’s excellent relations and reputation within the international community. They value having a universally accepted travel and identification document considered to be one of the most secure and most respected in the world.

Seeking accessibility of world-class government digital services may be the desired future. Before that can be done, the government must ensure that security is at the forefront. In terms of the Passport Program, it is necessary to explore the outstanding issues which have been under-reported since the Passport Services were transferred to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Service Canada in 2013.

Along the same lines of digital services, one of the arguments provided for dissolving Passport Canada was to modernize the issuance platform and replace the existing processing system which would improve the passport application process for Canadians. The immigration Global Case Management System (GCMS) was intended to be the basis for significant improvements to e-services for Canadians.

From 2013 to 2016, a great deal of time and tremendous resources were spent unsuccessfully trying to accomplish this GCMS goal. The GCMS system could not handle the volume and speed necessary to process the 5.1 million passports being produced annually, a quantity that has been steadily increasing. The program failed to take security precautions into consideration during live system implementation and as a result was suspended and audited.

Furthermore, in April 2017, the departments enabled the downgrading from Secret security clearances to the basic reliability for all employees across Canada. This was done without advising the public and without consultation with the Union of National Employees. This appears to contradict government security policies and agreements and an Auditor General report from 2005.

Passport Program employees take pride in creating the most valuable Canadian identification that serves as the proof of holder’s identity and nationality status outside Canada. Presumably, Canadians want to ensure their personal information is safeguarded and that issuance of Passports is not placed in the hands of adversary interests.

I ask for your attention to the issues raised in my letter. I also ask for a public apology and recognition of the tremendous work the Passport Program employees do in serving the Canadian Public each and every day.

Respectfully yours,

Kevin King
National President
Union of National Employees

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