Skip to main content

Hundreds of BC Ferries employees out sick at any given time, company says after latest cancellations

Ferry cancellations led to massive delays for people trying to return to the Lower Mainland from Salt Spring Island on Sunday night.

Multiple BC Ferries sailings were cancelled, including the 7:30 p.m. departure from Long Harbour to Tsawwassen.

“At 4:30 p.m. we got a call from a 1-800 number, which I didn’t answer,” said Corey Dixon, who planned on taking the ferry.

“It went to voicemail and, luckily, I checked it. It said our ferry was cancelled due to short staffing.”

Some travellers decided to try their luck at a second ferry terminal, Fulford Harbour. They were told by BC Ferries staff there would be no ferries available at that location either, due to staffing shortages and mechanical issues.

For anyone hoping to catch a ferry, the only hope was making it onto an evening sailing from a third terminal, Vesuvius, to Crofton, a small town roughly 75 kilometres north of Victoria.

However, travellers were faced with a two- to three-sailing wait to drive onto that ferry. BC Ferries brought in an alternative option for foot passengers travelling to and from Vancouver Island.

“In a situation like yesterday, where we did have to cancel some of our service, we did lay on a water taxi to get customers back and forth,” said Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs for BC Ferries.

Marshall said the cancelled sailings were in fact due to low staffing levels.

“I don’t know what the story is, but if a couple people call in sick and that means the ferries don’t run, that’s not a great policy,” said Dixon.

Marshall told CTV News employee absentee levels have doubled since before the pandemic.

“It’s (now) about 11 per cent. So, we might have 400 or 500 employees unavailable at any given time now,” said Marchall.

“While we do have lots of staff on hand, what we’re finding is people are not as available as they used to be.”

The ferry service suggests checking for updates on its website and social media channels before heading to a ferry terminal. It isn’t ruling out further disruptions as the pandemic presses on.

“On occasion we do have to cancel sailings due to crew availability and we certainly apologize to our customers for that,” said Marshall. Top Stories

Tragedy in real time: The Armenian exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh

For the past five days, vehicles laden with refugees have poured into Armenia, fleeing from the crumbling enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in neighbouring Azerbaijan. In a special report for, journalist Neil Hauer recounts what it's like on the ground in Armenia.

Stay Connected