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Commentary
Tackling the high cost of a Canadian passport

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

It's been awhile since I renewed my Canadian passport, so imagine my surprise when I found out that it now costs $120 for a 5-year passport and $160 for a 10-year passport. That's nearly double what I paid 10 years ago.

When you take into account that the cost of the average passport photo is $25-$30, the cost of a 5-year passport is nearly $150, and a 10-year passport is close to $200. That's expensive on anyone's budget, but even more so if you have kids. The cost for kids under the age of 16 is only $57, or about $100 with the photos, but you still have to pay full freight if they are 16 or over.

Which got me thinking, how in the world can a family with a modest income afford to pay for two, three or four passports? For a single parent family with three kids, two under 16 and one over 16, the total cost for five-year passports with photos is in the neighbourhood of $475.

For a lot of families in Canada, that's simply unaffordable, which severely limits their ability to travel. Actually, it prevents them from travelling outside of Canada altogether. When this came up in a conversation several weeks ago the response was, "Don't you realize, poor people don't travel," which seems to be the attitude of the Canadian government.

While possessing a passport is a privilege, it's a privilege that comes with being a Canadian citizen. It should also be a right. If you're a Canadian citizen, you should have the right to own a passport and the ability to travel abroad, and that right should be affordable to all.

At the most you should have to pay a $50 processing fee; 5-year passports for anyone under 16 and 10-year passports for anyone 16 and over. I'm not to sure why they charge an extra $40 for a 10-year passport when the only physical difference between the two is the expiration date. (If anything they should be cheaper.)

Of course, this will never happen in the age of cost recovery, but with so many other government services being subsidized, subsidizing the cost of a Canadian passport should be a no-brainer.

But hey, that's just my opinion.

(Posted 12:30 p.m., Aug. 19)

 

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