Pent-up demand leading to travel and passport backlogs

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Pent-up demand from Canadians wishing to travel as the pandemic subsides has led to massive requests to renew passports and book flights.

Expired documents or the absence of passports have been identified as one of the main problems in the treatment of passengers waiting for flights, as well as the shortage of workers and airline officials.

Service Canada said that from April 1 to June 30, the agency received more than 808,000 passport applications, up 166,000 from the same period in 2019.

The government is working at full speed to process the documents the agency expects to get in four to six weeks or by the end of the summer, Family Minister Karina Gould said, as “it there is still a lot to do and quickly”.

The government has determined that part of the challenge is “we didn’t have enough resources to get these apps into the system in a timely manner, and then it slowed everything down,” she said.

Truck driver in crash that killed 16 on hockey team bus granted parole

The driver of a transport truck that crashed into the Saskatchewan Broncos’ Humboldt hockey bus four years ago, killing 16 people and injuring 13 team members, has been granted day parole.

The Parole Board of Canada has said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu could be granted full parole in six months if he meets the conditions, including no contact with the victims’ families.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to dangerous driving.

Sidhu, who is also fighting extradition to his home country of India, said he was distracted by a loud truck flap and the sun was in his eyes before the collision.

In short

• Troublesome inflation will be around for a while, but Canada should be able to avoid a recession, according to the Bank of Canada. The inflation rate will remain “painfully high” for the rest of the year, central bank governor Tiff Macklem said. As a result, Canadians are being squeezed by a higher cost of living, with record high gas and food prices. Statistics Canada reported that the latest annual inflation rate rose to 8.1% from 7.7% for the biggest annual change since January 1983. “Unfortunately,” the rate “will likely start at seven for the rest of the year,” he said.

• Canadians who bought electronic devices between 2004 and 2010 can claim a minimum of $20 with or without proof of purchase following a class action lawsuit. Many manufacturers and distributors were alleged to have conspired to fix the prices of products sold in Canada. Settlements totaling $29.7 million have been reached with BenQ, Hitachi-LG, NEC, Panasonic, Phillips, Pioneer, Quanta, Sony, TEAC and Toshiba Samsung. Details: https://www.oddclassaction.com.

Facts and figures

• The Canadian dollar is higher at 78 US cents while the US dollar yields $1.29 in Canadian dollars, before exchange fees.

• The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 2.5%, while the prime rate for commercial banks is 4.7%.

• Canadian stock markets are up, with the Toronto index at 19,062 points and the TSX Growth index at 616 points.

• The average price of gasoline in Canada is less than $1.84 per liter or $6.99 per US gallon in Canadian dollars.

• Lotto Max: (July 19) 6, 9, 17. 19, 31, 34 and 46; bonus 4. (July 15) 4, 7, 12, 18, 29, 47 and 49; bounty 48.

• Loto 6/49: (July 20) 1, 15, 17, 25, 26 and 40; bonus 39. (July 16) 8, 19, 23, 34, 37 and 44; bounty 21.

Regional memories

• Alberta motorists continue to get a break from filling up as the province extends its gas tax relief for at least another three months. Premier Jason Kenney has said the government will not reinstate its 13 cents per liter (50 US cents per gallon) gas station tax until at least September. The oil-rich province began the relief measure in April and reviews its cut rate quarterly.