B.C. Ferries cancels several sailings on key routes this weekend due to staff shortages

·3 min read
B.C. Ferries cancelled a number of sailings on the Queen of Surrey, connecting Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, on Friday, June 10 due to staff shortages. (B.C. Ferries - image credit)
B.C. Ferries cancelled a number of sailings on the Queen of Surrey, connecting Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, on Friday, June 10 due to staff shortages. (B.C. Ferries - image credit)

B.C. Ferries says a staffing shortage has led to cancelled sailings connecting Metro Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island.

A number of sailings between Metro Vancouver and Victoria have been called off because there are no available crew members on the Queen of New Westminster to ensure the safety of passengers, B.C. Ferries said in a statement on their website.

The cancelled sailings are:

Friday

  • 4 p.m. Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.

  • 6 p.m. Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen.

Sunday 

  • 4 p.m. Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.

  • 6 p.m. Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen.

  • 8 p.m. Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.

  • 10 p.m. Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen.

Alternative service between Vancouver Island and the mainland is available via the Tsawwassen-Duke Point and Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay routes.

Friday sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale on the Sunshine Coast have also been affected by staffing shortages.

The 8:40 a.m. and 11 a.m. sailings from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay, and the 9:50 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. sailings from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale have been cancelled.

B.C. Ferries said customers with bookings on cancelled sailings will be contacted to let them know if they can be placed on a sailing later in the day.

In the case of cancelled bookings, fees and fares will be refunded.

B.C. Ferries said it had exhausted all avenues to find replacement staff. If something were to change and replacement crew became available, customers would be immediately notified.

Sailings between Chemainus and Penelakut Island on Thursday night were also cancelled due to staffing issues. A complimentary water taxi will be in service.

Impact on staff 

Eric McNeely, president of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers' Union, told CBC News he had warned of staffing issues at B.C. Ferries last year.

"There's always a fine line in business where you want to have an efficient operation and not have too much fat," he said.

"I think what we've seen is ... there's so many efficiencies that the resiliency that is needed in a fleet this large doesn't exist anymore."

McNeely says the cancellations are affecting union members who are being forced to work overtime or face negative interactions with travellers who have to be told their sailings are not going ahead. He also said casual and seasonal employees would miss out on payment if sailings are cancelled.

"If people are travelling, take a moment to consider that the person directing traffic or providing food is also just as valuable as a person with a ticket," he said.

He says B.C. Ferries must work to hire more staff with better compensation. He also says the government should pass an amendment to the Coastal Ferry Act that is currently before the legislature. The amendment would see greater oversight over B.C. Ferries' operations.

On Friday, a spokesperson for B.C. Ferries said in an email statement they are offering incentives to retain and recruit staff, such as payments for employees who refer a successful job candidate, a signing bonus for new hires, and a restart payment for ex-employees who are re-hired with B.C. Ferries.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told CBC in an email that B.C. Ferries is "a private corporation responsible for its own operational matters," and that the company has advised government of their commitment to addressing staffing capacity issues through training and recruitment.

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