21st Century Consular Plan
Canadians love to travel. While most international trips are trouble-free, the Government of Canada is there to provide advice on safe travel to Canadian citizens and provide consular assistance, should they find themselves in trouble.
Canada’s team of dedicated consular officials assist thousands of Canadian travellers abroad each year, in situations ranging from stolen passports to child abductions and crisis situations. We provide consular assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through our Emergency Watch and Response Centre and more than 260 points of service in 150 countries.
The nature of international travel is changing. Today, more and more Canadians explore remote corners of the world, work for foreign-based companies, participate in student exchanges and retire in southern destinations. At the same time, we are seeing the need to respond to a growing number of requests and increasingly complex consular situations.
To meet these challenges, our government is modernizing its approach to consular services so we can provide Canadians with the information they need to make safe and smart travel decisions, and to offer assistance when they need it most.
Canada’s modernized approach to consular service features four key initiatives:
- Focus on children
- Targeted outreach
- Go digital!
- Strengthen our response network
Focus on Children
Our government has made issues that affect Canadian children and their families a priority. Unfortunately, the number of consular cases involving children has increased significantly in recent years. They have also become more complex and are often more difficult to resolve.
In November 2013, we launched the new Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit to improve our ability to respond to consular issues involving Canadian children. We have increased the number of specialized case officers that assist parents and families. We have also enhanced our policy capacity by implementing dedicated analysts who deal solely with issues relating to children abroad. Through the creation of this unit, Canada is taking a leading role in finding new ways to assist in cases of international child abduction, including abduction prevention, as well as taking a leading role on emerging issues such as child, early and forced marriage.
Many Canadians are unprepared for the realities of international travel and may have unrealistic expectations of the services our government offers abroad. We will target our efforts toward specific groups by building on the success of Canada’s one-stop shop for travel advice, Travel.gc.ca. Through innovative partnerships and technologies that put information on safe and responsible travel at travellers’ fingertips, we will be better equipped to provide Canadians with the information they need in today’s world of smart phones and social media.
We will be increasing the scope of public awareness campaigns to make Canadians more aware of important travel tips, such as the need to purchase travel health insurance. As well, we will expand the use of social media by Canadian embassies and consulates, enhance the Travel Smart app so that travellers can readily access essential information on-the-go, and have our safe-travel video played on major Canadian airlines.
More than ever, Canadians need and expect access to information and services at the click of a button or touch of a screen. Our government is responding to this trend through the creation of Canada’s interactive consular-inquiry guide, which will provide information tailored to a specific need and geographical location.
We will streamline our notarial services by enabling clients, for the first time ever, to obtain information and submit documents online. We will also provide registered Canadians travelling or living abroad with the ability to receive SMS text messages on arrival at their destination or when affected by an international emergency.
Strengthen our Response Network
With Canadians travelling to more remote areas, having the right people in the right places will allow citizens to get help when they need it. We will be implementing regional delivery models and improving the use of honorary consul and emergency warden networks. As well, we will focus on enhancing the response capability of Canada’s Standing Rapid Deployment Team, so we can effectively reach and assist Canadians when they need it most.
We will also establish new partnerships worldwide to promote and enhance consular cooperation and improve our ability to support Canadians during international emergencies.
For more information, visit travel.gc.ca or contact us by telephone (1-800-267-8376 or 613-944-4000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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