During the early days of COVID-19, when millions of Canadians were in need of government assistance, the Trudeau Liberals decided to send federal public servants home. Two years later, we’re still trying to clean up the mess.
My staff have dealt with hundreds of cases in the past two years of Canadians trying to access government benefits or programs but who were unable to do so. Despite the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, an undisclosed number of federal public servants remain at home and access to government services remain hampered by a lack of accessibility.
We’ve heard from people who were turned away from Service Canada locations and told to go online, or go straight to their MP office. People who waited on hold for hours with the Canada Revenue Agency only to be disconnected.
It is beyond ridiculous that Canadians must wait for hours in line or on the phone only to be told to go online, or worse, get turned away or hung up on.
It’s not the fault of frontline employees that government services have become less accessible. It’s the fault of their political masters. Those ministers who oversee the running of departments, who – despite their reflexive response that “the public service is independent” – are ultimately responsible. This is a failure of management. A systemic failure and that starts at the top.
This is what happens when you dump experience and competency in favour of ideologues.
More recently, we have been contacted by dozens of individuals who are unable to renew their passports. Because the department is so behind, they were told Passport Canada was only processing emergency travel.
During a conversation with Passport Canada more than a year ago, an agent told my staff that there were some 40,000 applications sitting untouched in a warehouse. Moreover, with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted and the first batch of ten-year passports coming up for renewal the government should have known there would be an increased demand this spring. There was no excuse for the Liberals’ failure to plan ahead – and this is just one example of such ineptitude.
It was a mistake to send public servants home. It is inexplicable that, two years later, so many remain at home.
Canadians have managed to show up to work and do their jobs throughout COVID-19. There is no good reason why public servants cannot be allowed to do the same.
Canadians should be able to reasonably expect that those services they pay for will be accessible when they need them.
Furthermore, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do so in person, expect a courteous smile, receive the information they require, reasonable processing times, and, for those who so wish, paper forms.
The Trudeau government must also immediately re-instate those federal public employees they sent home over vaccine mandates. Not only was this a disservice to those employees, it was also a disservice to Canadians – not to mention just plain wrong. The Liberals have created a big mess and Canadians deserve to have all hands on deck to clean it up.