BC Ferries is canceling at least a dozen sailings, blaming understaffing

At least a dozen BC Ferries trips along the south coast were canceled on Saturday, with the company blaming “crew availability” for its ongoing struggles.

By noon, 12 departures had been canceled. A further nine departures between Swartz Bay, Mayne Island, Pender Island and Tsawwassen were threatened with cancellation.

BC Ferries later announced changed schedules for the Mayne Queen and Salish Heron to help travelers reach their destinations.

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

“We require a certain number of crew members on board the ship to ensure the safety of our passengers,” BC Ferries said in a statement. “The decision to cancel a cruise in these circumstances will be made when we have exhausted all avenues to find a replacement crew.”

Later on Saturday, BC Ferries canceled Sunday and Monday departures on the Northern Sea Wolf between Bella Coola and Port Hardy due to a mechanical problem with the ship’s main engine.

Sailing cancellations have become a regular occurrence across BC’s ferry network this summer, with the high number of cancellations cited as the reason for the company’s CEO being fired in late July.

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Diana Mumford, Chair of the Ferry Advisory Committee, speaks to Stephen Quinn about what was discussed.

The ongoing staffing shortages on BC Ferries ships have been attributed to crew members falling ill with COVID-19, a lack of recruitment and a shortage of qualified crew, according to the BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union.

An amendment to the Coastal Ferry Act is currently before the legislature. The change would provide for greater oversight of BC Ferries operations. The union has spoken out in favor of the legislation in the past.

The ferry company informed foot passengers at the Swartz Bay terminal that the metered parking lots were full on Saturday afternoon. They were advised to travel by public transport or taxi.

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