COVID-related crew shortage forced cancellation of BC Ferries sailings

BC Ferries says the “staffing issue” that forced the cancellation of the Queen of Surrey’s 5:25 p.m. sailing from Langdale Nov. 4 as well as one of its scheduled round-trips on the Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route was COVID-related.

“Three employees tested positive for COVID-19, so following public health guidelines, a number of their colleagues are in self-isolation and we didn’t have enough crew to comply with regulation,” BC Ferries communications manager Astrid Chang told Coast Reporter.

Chang said the three employees who’ve tested positive include the two Langdale-based workers confirmed by BC Ferries earlier this week.

Transport Canada requires a minimum crew complement before a ferry is allowed to sail, and Chang said, “The crewing issue has been resolved and we do not anticipate further sailing cancellations as a result.”

BC Ferries said earlier this week that the employees do not work in positions where they would have direct contact with the travelling public and neither Vancouver Coastal Health nor the BC Centre for Disease Control has issued a public exposure notification with respect to BC Ferries.

In a Nov. 4 bulletin to members the BC Ferry and Marine Workers union said, “Several BC Ferries' employees from the Horseshoe Bay and Langdale [terminals] have recently tested positive for COVID-19.”

The bulletin advises union members to stay home if they’re sick or feeling symptoms and reminds them they have the right to refuse unsafe work.

Masks have been mandatory on BC Ferries vessels and at the terminals since late August and travellers on the Landgale-Horseshoe Bay route also have the option of remaining in their vehicles during the crossing, no matter which car deck they’re on.