BC Ferries exempt from new domestic travel vaccine requirements
BC Ferries, a key aspect of British Columbia’s travel infrastructure, is exempt from new federally-mandated requirements for full vaccination, even though it’s regulated by Transport Canada.
On Wednesday morning, the prime minister and deputy prime minister outlined the new vaccine mandate, laying out the rules for travelers moving around the country by air or train to produce proof of vaccination, but ferry travel is exempt; this is in line with provincial exemptions from the B.C. Vaccine Card as well.
“Mandatory vaccine requirements announced by the federal government today will not apply to BC Ferries passengers,” confirmed BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall in an email to CTV News. “BC Ferries supports the Provincial and Federal Health Officers’ position that vaccination is the most effective tool to reduce the risk of COVID-19 – for our customers, our colleagues and our families – and to protect broader public health and reduce the spread of the virus.”
The transportation company is in a complex situation: it receives provincial funding as part of the transportation network, but is a private company. It is also federally regulated by Transport Canada.
“Mandatory vaccine requirements announced by the provincial government for public servants will not apply to BC Ferries’ employees, as BC Ferries is a private company,” said, Marshall, though she did say it's in discussions with their union and regulators on the topic of vaccinations.
For now, BC Ferries will continue to rely on the mask mandate, which had lead to some confrontations and arrests of belligerent passengers.
FLOAT PLANES INCLUDED IN FEDERAL MANDATE
Float planes are also regulated and overseen by Transport Canada and one of B.C.’s biggest operators confirmed that even their short-haul flights will require proof of vaccination as they applauded the move by Ottawa.
“We believe that this new mandate is an essential next step to continuing to provide the safest travel experience possible for our guests” said Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall. “Anything that we can do to contribute towards keeping our passengers and our employees safe, we will absolutely implement.”
McDougall added that the company is in the process of ensuring that all of their staff members are fully vaccinated.