Backlog of 3-4 months to obtain birth certificates frustrates Ontario parents
A polymer long-form birth certificate issued by the Ontario government is shown. (Ontario.ca)
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019 4:42PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 19, 2019 6:34PM EST
Some Ontario parents are facing a wait of three to four months to receive birth certificates for their children and they say the wait has left their travel plans and education savings in limbo.
A note on the Service Ontario website states “Due to longer than normal processing times, it may take up to 14-15 weeks to deliver this product.”
Mississauga resident Samantha Cass questioned Service Ontario about it on Twitter on Tuesday.
“@ServiceOntario why do you have a 15 week wait for long form birth certificates??” she asked.
In response, Service Ontario noted there is a backlog.
Cass told CP24.com that she and her husband requested long-form birth certificates for their children, 5 and 7, so they could obtain passports for them.
Cass said she hoped to plan a vacation outside of Canada but was told there was a 15 week-long backlog to obtain a birth certificate.
“That brings us to June (2019). If I fill it out now, who is to say it will still be 15 weeks,” Cass said.
She noted that calling Service Ontario hasn’t helped.
“I tried calling the number and all I got was a busy line.”
Cass admitted her situation is not “an emergency” per se, but explained that her plans are in limbo over something completely avoidable.
“I don’t want to take the risk of booking a package or booking plane tickets somewhere.”
The wait was highlighted by a number of Reddit users back in Oct. 2018, with some users saying they were told of a “four month backlog” by Service Ontario.
Milton resident Tim Vrablik told CP24.com that when his son was born in 2015, the process to get a birth certificate took one month, including a time where the process stalled because he and his wife had to correct an error on the original submission.
This past fall, he and his wife welcomed a baby girl and wanting to avoid a similar delay, meticulously checked their submission to make sure there were no errors.
After submitting the request and not hearing anything for a few weeks, Vrablik said he checked online and was told there was “no movement” on their daughter’s birth certificate.
Service Ontario told him they had identified an error on their submission but that if he sent in a handwritten correction, via fax, the problem could be fixed and the birth certificate could be created.
“Once that got faxed — we’re easily at one month and a half,”Vrablik explained.
Another month went by and Vrablik said he heard nothing.
By then, he said he concluded it was best to voice his frustration on social media.
“At this point I am going to bother them online to see what is going on,” he said he recalled feeling at the time.
At nearly five months after first requesting a birth certificate, they finally received one for their daughter.
They were later told that nobody read the fax with the correction to their submission, and since the error on their original application was not fixed, it was removed from the pile.
“They knew they had an error and someone dropped the ball with following it up,” Vrablik said.
He also noted that he was told that the backlog was due to an increased number of birth registrations during the summer of 2018.
It’s a suggestion Cass scoffs at: “I can’t see that high an increase of births over the summer, It’s a little weird.”
As a stopgap, Service Ontario has offered a fax help line where parents can fax a “letter of explanation,” as to why they need their birth certificate application expedited.
Parents must include unspecified “proof” that they need their documentation before it will be expedited.
Vrablik questioned why he needed to be communicating with Service Ontario by fax machine in 2018.
“Beyond certain businesses and lawyers nobody uses a fax anymore.”
Without a birth certificate, Vrablik said the family could not travel to the U.S to visit their relatives because they could not apply for a passport for their daughter, and they also encountered difficulties starting a registered education savings plan (RESP) for their daughter.
“It was extremely frustrating. Our daughter’s life was being put on hold to a certain extent. Luckily we didn’t have to leave the country for anything.”
David Woolley, spokesperson for Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker, who oversees Service Ontario, said Tuesday that anyone encountering difficulties should call them at 1-800-461-2156 or 1-416-325-8305.
He said the backlog is due to “an increase in transaction volumes for some products and are experiencing an increase in the number of cases that require manual intervention, which can delay processing.”
“Service Ontario is continuing to clear the backlog as quickly as possible, and has implemented mitigation strategies to address this matter.”
The agency noted on Twitter that there is also a backlog for marriage and death registrations.