British Columbia

BC Ferries will be eligible for federal bail-out funds

Officials say BC Ferries will be eligible to receive federal financial assistance from Ottawa, adding it to the list of other struggling transit agencies eligible for millions in bail-out funds.

Federal, provincial ministers announced funding on Tuesday

BC Ferries' Queen of Surrey vessel pictured in 2014. The province has announced BC Ferries will be eligible for a portion of federal and provincial bail-out funding for transit operators struggling financial due to the pandemic. (Robb Douglas/CBC)

Officials say BC Ferries will be eligible to receive federal financial assistance from Ottawa, adding it to the list of other struggling transit agencies eligible for millions in bail-out funds.

The money comes from the $1 billion already set aside for transportation by both the federal and provincial governments under Ottawa's Safe Restart Agreement. TransLink and B.C. Transit, facing staggering financial losses, are set to receive a portion of that funding.

"We are working ... to make sure they are able to provide service as they rebuild," said B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena.

The federal government announced last month it would be providing $19 billion to the provinces and territories to help fund a "safe restart" of the Canadian economy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the agreement is meant to help governments pay for a variety of needs, including transit, paying for child care, bailing out financially strapped cities, and increasing contact tracing.

A total of about $2.2 billion in federal transfers will go to B.C., meant to keep people afloat as the economy reopens and to bolster provincial support programs.

How much each transit authority receives is yet to be decided.

A statement said the province is working with the agencies "to fully understand the operational and financial challenges resulting from the pandemic before determining what level of relief may be considered."

BC Ferries will be required to bring forward a comprehensive relief proposal to the province to ask for the funding, with "all necessary information made available to support the government's decision."

Trevena said restoring ferry service to pre-pandemic levels and "keeping fares reasonable" will be priorities.

BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins said in a statement that the corporation's leadership was "pleased to hear confirmation" of its eligibility, having been collaborating with both levels of government for months on the issue of funding.

With files from The Canadian Press

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