British Columbia

B.C. Ferries cancels at least a dozen sailings, blames lack of staff

At least a dozen B.C. Ferries sailings along the South Coast were cancelled on Saturday, with the corporation blaming "crew availability" for its continuing struggles.

'Crew availability' listed as reason for multiple cancellations Saturday

A ship with a painting of a heron, in Coast Salish art style, on the side of it.
Several sailings on the Salish Heron were cancelled Saturday due to a lack of available crew. (B.C. Ferries)

At least a dozen B.C. Ferries sailings along the South Coast were cancelled on Saturday, with the corporation blaming "crew availability" for its continuing struggles.

As of noon, 12 sailings had been cancelled. A further nine sailings were at risk of cancellation between Swartz Bay, Mayne Island, Pender Island and Tsawwassen.

B.C. Ferries later announced modified schedules for the Mayne Queen and Salish Heron to help travellers get to their destinations.

The morning cancellations included four sailings between Tsawwassen on the mainland and Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island.

"We require a specific number of crew members on board the vessel to ensure the safety of our passengers," B.C. Ferries said in a statement. "The decision to cancel a sailing in these circumstances is made when we have exhausted all options to find replacement crew."

Later on Saturday, B.C. Ferries cancelled Sunday's and Monday's sailings on the Northern Sea Wolf between Bella Coola and Port Hardy due to a mechanical issue with the main engine on the vessel.

Sailing cancellations have become a regular occurrence on B.C.'s ferry network this summer, with the high number of cancellations listed as a reason for the firing of the corporation's CEO in late July.

Ferry Advisory Committees chair Diana Mumford speaks with Stephen Quinn about what was discussed.

Continuing staff shortages on B.C. Ferries vessels have been blamed on crew members getting sick with COVID-19, a lack of hiring, and a lack of qualified crew, according to the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers' Union.

An amendment to the Coastal Ferry Act is currently before the legislature. The amendment would see greater oversight of B.C. Ferries' operations. The union has spoken up in support of the legislation in the past.

The ferry corporation told foot passengers at the Swartz Bay terminal that pay parking facilities were full up on Saturday afternoon. They were advised to arrive by public transit or by taxi.

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