It appears Passport Canada had little choice but to significantly raise the cost to Canadians of obtaining or renewing a passport.
But it's still too much.
The federal agency officially announced the passport price hikes last week, although they were revealed in the fall when the government introduced a series of high-tech measures designed to make our travel documents more secure.
These improvements cost money. Also, it has been many years since the price of passports was raised. The government wants passports to pay for themselves.
So, starting next year, the cost of a five-year passport will raise to $120 from $87. A 10-year passport will be offered beginning in July for $160. Replacement fees, children's passports and the cost of applying from outside the country will also jump.
Being that passports are now required even for travel to the United States, these price hikes could become a burden to seniors and low-income Canadians, an agency cost-benefit analysis admitted.
The solution, the agency said, could be a NEXUS card, which can be used only for travel between Canada and the U.S. and really isn't much, if any, cheaper than a passport.
"Or (they may) decide not to travel."
In other words, Passport Canada and its governing overseers, who insist the agency pay its own way, are saying to some Canadians: tough beans.
If you can't afford a basic Canadian travel document, then you don't deserve one, the government is saying.
This is callous government policy.
A passport and the ability to travel should be considered pretty much basic Canadian rights.
It's like the situation BC Ferries has created with its fares - putting the price of travel out of reach for some.
The user-pay concept for passports is a reasonable idea, but it can't be so rigidly applied that the cost goes out of reach for some segments of society.
All Canadians have the right to a passport.
- City Editor Pat Bulmer